The Pennsylvania State University  

  Schreyer Honors College  

  College of Arts and Architecture  

Photo: Butterfly Weed 

Growing the Native Neighborhood

One yard at a time

The traditional American lawn has been a staple of the national landscape for quite some time. However, it is not a benign patch of turf  as we previously assumed but a sterile, green carpet that has caused ecological damage to our water, air, and ecosystems. 
 
This project aims to educate lawn owners about the negative consequences of lawns and to provide a simple solution: Replace the lawn with native plants. 

HELPFUL LINKS

Click here to start the online guide!
Click here to go directly to the yard planting templates
NEW!

LAWNS?

What's so bad about

Lawns do have their merits. They are somewhat of a carbon sink and create gathering spaces for people to play and socialize. But the excessive acres and acres of turf is wreaking unseen havoc on the places we inhabit. 

I Don't Support Wildlife

I Pollute the Earth

I Devour Resources

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9 BILLION 

GALLONS 

of water are used every day on lawns in the US.

50% 

from excessive watering and inefficient methods

in 2015,

$15.9 BILLION

on lawns and lawn care services in the US

WAS SPENT

Turf covers

62,500 

SQUARE MILES

of the US

IS WASTED

11

6

7

HOMEOWNERS SPEND

70 hours PER YEAR

Mowing and maintaining their lawns

MOWERS

and other lawn care machinery account for

5%

1

of our air pollution

9

Lawns replace habitat. They eat away at its edges until all that's left are fractured patches that are too small to support a biodiverse ecosystem. Every species requires a certain amount of habitat to eat, sleep, and reproduce in. When habitat shrinks, competition for resources like food and shelter intensifies, often forcing animals to look elsewhere for the resources. But if the next patch of their habitat is miles away, then those animals are out of luck. Lawns themselves offer no refuge for native critters, as non-native grasses and alien ornamental plantings are foreign and inedible to local wildlife.

Lawns pollute the Earth. Mowing, fertilizers, and pesticides release pollutants into our air and water. Toxic chemicals and excess nutrients entering the water disrupt aquatic ecosystems and can cause harm to fish, insects, and even birds.

Lawns consume resources. Water is an already limited resource on this Earth, and it is being wasted on lawns. Inefficient irrigation systems and poor watering times result in water that's not even used by the plants but runs off the surface or evaporates into the air. Lawns also consume your own time and money in mowing, fuel, and other maintenance needs.

 Native Plants, 

 Your Yard, 

 and You 

Wildlife outside your window

How can planting your lawn with native plants make the world better and improve your li fe?

Help out the birds and the bees

Grow a lively and beautiful yard

No more mowing

Clean your water and improve the soil

Backyard Habitat. When you plant a native garden, the wildlife returns. With an increased species diversity, your garden can provide nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects, and seed and shelter for birds. All of this you can watch from right outside your window.

Grown to your advantage. There's less (or no) mowing and overall maintenance required once your garden is established. All this time you've now saved can be spent appreciating the wildlife around you. Tailor the plants to fit your needs and desires. Whether it's erosion control, privacy, or winter interest, there's a native plant out there for you.

Deeply Rooted. The varied and complex root systems of native plants can improve water infiltration, reducing rainwater runoff during storms.

Plant a garden for the sake of a garden. Gardens are magnificent! They create life and attract life, changing and growing, adding excitement and color to the world. 

But Really,

Who cares about the environment?

You should! That is, if you care about breathing, clean water, eating, mitigating severe weather events, that sort of thing. It's hard to care about what you can't see happening, even if you're directly benefiting from the services provided by your local ecosystem. But all it takes is planting a flower to see that we are all connected. 

Lawn Gone Native!

Turning your turf expanse into a place of life and beauty can be fun and easy. In the following guide, you will find how to pick the right plants, plan your yard for your needs as a homeowner, and some information on buying native plants and suggested maintenance.