Natural Landscaping -- With Support of the EPA

One of the active readers of Native Backyard sent me a couple of links today. The story may be familiar--guy ditches his grass, plants natives, is happy. Neighbor misses grass, gripes to officials. Officials ditch written procedure, issue citation to guy, threaten mowing of plants. Guy is now making his case, partly with assistance from the EPA!

You can get the story straight from the horse's mouth here

The EPA's site puts up a truly marvelous history of the American Lawn in their Introduction, which I've included as a link. I'm going one step further, however, and including a portion of their introduction.  Here it is:

B.  Why the Movement Is Taking Root

Prairie ecologist Neil Diboll, a natural landscaping advocate and expert for nearly two decades, cites three primary reasons for the rapidly growing acceptance of natural landscaping: (1) ecologic; (2) economic; and (3) spiritual. 
Ecologically there is no doubt that natural landscapes are preferable particularly when compared to traditional suburban exotic lawns. Since natural landscapes do not require pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers, the harmful effects of these chemicals are eliminated. In light of water shortages and problems with non-point source Pollution, natural landscaping has profoundly positive ecologic effects. Xeriscaping, the practice of planting native low-water-consuming plants, is the law in many cities and one of the most compelling ecological bases for natural landscaping. 
The positive economic consequences of natural landscaping are twofold. First, there are the direct costs. Natural landscapes are less costly to maintain than a traditional exotic lawn or exotic landscape. Once established, natural landscapes are not mowed, fertilized, treated with pesticides or herbicides, and they do not need watering. For the homeowner or office building manager, direct costs are substantially reduced. 
State departments of transportation across the nation are some of the strongest advocates of natural landscaping. They recognize the benefits of natural landscaping and plant native plants on roadsides and rights of way throughout their jurisdictions. The Minnesota DOT is perhaps the most notable in its efforts. The MDOT Wildflower Program is involved in preserving and planting prairie wildflowers at many rest areas and along roadsides throughout the state. In addition to beautification of the state, a tourist attraction, the MDOT cites many discernable benefits from its program. 
Natural landscaping also reduces the costs of pollution cleanup. For example, water pollution in inland lakes and rivers could be reduced when those living within the watershed naturally landscape their yard. The result would be reduced run-off and a reduction in non-point source pollution attributed to fertilizers and herbicides used for maintenance of mono-culture lawns. 
The second economic argument for natural landscaping is the doctrine of diminishing marginal value - the less of an asset that remains the more valuable it becomes. As suburban sprawl continues to consume open space, the elements of Nature that remain and can be preserved increase in value. Accordingly, many developers are citing to the natural landscapes retained in their developments as a positive asset. Prices of homes in such sub-divisions often cost more than similar homes in areas without natural landscaping.

You will notice that I did not include the third section, dealing with spirituality. Maybe your interest has been piqued and you will check out the link for complete history--they have done a really good job with this.

Regardless, I think the end result is predetermined. Our guy in Buffalo will get to keep his native landscaping.  

Reading the established precedents in the EPA history can be helpful, however, if you are planning some native landscaping of your own. Notably, boundaries were established in some places to create a transition zone between "lawn" yards and native yards. To prevent discord in your own efforts, communication with your neighbors is, without a doubt, a good start. Enlisting a friend with design skills might also be a good move--native doesn't have to be messy or "unattractive," even to the unenlightened. 

If you have been on the fence about your own native landscaping, perhaps a little help from the EPA will help you give yourself permission to get started. I hope so! 

Thanks to my old friend for bringing this one up for discussion!
Flora of the week--Asclepias spp.

Flora of the week--Asclepias spp.

Fauna of the Week--American Toad

Fauna of the Week--American Toad