lawn_conservationMetropolitan areas cover over 30% of the land area in the United States, and these areas contain 80% of the country’s population [3, 6]. Our society’s fixation with lawns causes considerable environmental problems including water depletion, pesticide and herbicide pollution, habitat degradation, and threats to biodiversity.

At Conservation Science Institute, we view this problem as a tremendous opportunity to restore ecosystems and alleviate economic dependencies of at-risk populations while involving and educating the public where they live. This initiative includes guidance for ‘grass-roots’ habitat restoration and organic food production as well as the development of web resources such as a North American plant database. We also plan to develop national hands-on educational curricula for schools and scouting groups.

Before you begin converting your yard to a restored natural habitat, you should find out what kinds of plants and habitats are appropriate for your particular area. You can start by asking your local librarian for help, or you can contact a local or regional native plant society.

References
Berry, W. 2002. The Art of the Common Place: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry. Edited by Norman Wirzba. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 330 p.
Casey, K. (1996) ‘Attracting frogs to your garden: Creating an ideal habitat for native frogs in your own backyard’. Kimberley Publications, Upper Mt Gravatt, Qld. 134 pp.
Cox, J. and M. Cox. 1991. Landscaping with nature: Using nature’s designs to plan your yard. Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA.
DeStefano, S. and R. M. DeGraaf. 2003. Exploring the ecology of suburban wildlife. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2(1):95-101.
Diekelmann, J., R. Schuster and R. Graef. 1982. Natural landscaping: Designing with native plant communities. McGraw-Hill, New York, 276 p.
Gottehrer, D.M. 1978. Natural landscaping. Dutton, New York, 182 p.
Heimlich, R.E. and W.D. Anderson. 2001. Development at the urban fringe and beyond impacts on agriculture and rural land. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture.
Smyser, C.A. 1982. Nature’s design: a practical guide to natural landscaping. Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA, 390 p.