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Enjoy these informational resources:

Read about the History of the lawn:
History of the American Lawn
By Cameron Donaldson

Located at
Reprinted with permission from the Guide for Real Florida Gardeners, a free publication for homeowners, available at your local native nursery or Florida Native Plant Society chapter, or by calling Just Cause Media, 321-951-2210.
Some scientists believe that humans may be genetically encoded with a need to surround ourselves with low-growing turf grass. Tens of thousands of years ago in Africa, our ancestors stayed fit by chasing and being chased by big wild animals. The African savannas, large areas of low grasses, enabled human hunters to easily stalk their prey and spot predators at a distance.
Historians, however, believe that the human desire for lawns came about much later, in 17th century Europe, when the ruling royals flaunted their wealth by surrounding themselves with lawns. Lawns did a great job of showing off castles and manor homes. They also let the neighbors know that the lawn owner was so wealthy that he could afford to use the land as a playground, rather than a source of food. Thus, the lawn became a status symbol.
In the United States, early colonists were far too busy to be bothered with something as time-consuming and useless as a lawn. Their yards were cottage gardens planted with edible and medicinal plants and surrounded by paths and storage areas of hard-packed dirt, swept clean daily. And so it remained until enough wealth and leisure time was accumulated to start decorating the yard and creating play areas. Naturally our immigrant ancestors brought with them their Old World ideas-and Old World plants.
By the mid 1800s, the desire to emulate upper-crust Europe was in full swing. Literate Americans began to see magazine articles and books touting the lawn as essential for beautiful homes. At first, only the wealthy could afford the labor provided by hired staff to maintain lawns. Of course, this further cemented the idea of lawn as a status symbol. The push mower came on the scene in 1870 and suddenly almost any property owner who wanted to could have a lawn.
Seizing on this opportunity to push forward an “improved” lifestyle and supporting industry, the Garden Clubs of America, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Golf Association jointly spread the gospel of grass throughout the country in the early 1900s. Contests were held to reward lawn owners. Garden writers focused on the neighborly desire to conform and acquire status. Lawns became not just an aesthetic issue but a moral imperative.
With ever-improving technology, gas-powered lawnmowers came on the scene and after World War II, chemical weapons manufacturers turned their attention to the lawn and the formidable perceived enemy: insects. Warehouses of potent chemicals turned into fertilizer and pesticide products. This came at the perfect time for the postwar boom era, when Americans everywhere became suburbanites and felt they needed lawns.
Fortunately for all of us, scientists like Rachel Carson (author of Silent Spring) came along to explain the danger that such chemicals presented to all life, including ours, and the modern environmental movement was born. Scientists and activists battled to institute legal protections for public health and welfare and continue to do so today. Thanks to their efforts, many homeowners already want to reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals in their home. Now we’re beginning to recognize the need to reduce or eliminate lawns!
And now read this article for some eye-popping statistics about resources spent on lawn care:

Some good links:

Check out these two pdf flyers from the National Wildlife Federationand the Audubon Society for a few more details about why to reduce your lawn....


Assses your yard/garden space:
· Identify existing special conditions in your landscape: sunny areas, shady spots, wet spots, areas of native vegetation to leave, high traffic areas for family use, vegetable gardens
· Identify structural components already present: brush and rock piles, dead tree snags, cut banks and cliffs, dusting beds, nut and acorn trees, winter plants, summer plants, hummingbird food plants, conifers, grasses, water, etc
· Identify the wildlife you want to attract ? (e.g. shrub nesting birds, hummingbirds, winter songbirds)
· sketch out a rough plan

Provide the four basic elements:
· food (every bird species has it's own requirements; fruits, berries, grains, seeds, nectar sources, nuts, insects and other invertebrates)
· water (ponds, springs, creeks, water baths, cisterns, wetlands)
· cover (needed for weather protection, hiding, sleep, rest, nesting and raising young)
· space (every species has a unique pattern of use and territorial needs)

Guidelines for plant selection
· plant in keeping with existing conditions - soil type, climate (NADA zone 7)
· plant for both food and cover
· plant for all seasons
· plant diversity
· use native species – native plants are adapted to growing in our region
· invasive / non-native plants
- many non-native species are very aggressive
- many will quickly spread outside our gardens and establish in wild areas
- invasive species can out-compete more desirable and more valuable native plants
- many of these non-native pest plants can harm the very bird species we are trying to protect
- Asian plant species are particularly problematic as they come from a similar climate and niche so adapted to similar conditions but without the natural population checks like diseases and insects.

Some backyard plants that help wildlife:

Offer: protective cover, nesting sites
Pines (Pinus spp.)
Seeds; evergreen
Dogwood (Cornus spp.)
White Oak (Quercus alba)
Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Hickory (Carya spp.)
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Fruit; evergreen
Crabapple (Malus spp.)
Nectar, fruit
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
Nectar, fruit; thorny stems provide protective cover
Spruces (Picea spp.)
Good once established; not for hot, dry places


Sumac (Rhus spp.)

Elderberry (Sambucas canadensis)
Wild Plum (Prunus americana)
Nectar, fruit
Dog-hobble (Leucothoe spp.)
Evergreen cover (L. populifolia performs best)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.)
Nectar, fruit
Viburnums (Viburnum spp.)
Fruit; fragrance in Asian species
Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.)
Nectar, fruit


Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
Nectar, fruit; not the fragrant Japanese Honeysuckle which is highly invasive
Virginia Creper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans)
Wild Grape (Vitis spp.)
Raspberry and Blackberry (Rubus spp.)
Fruit; thorny stems provide protective cover; can be troublesome/invasive (not all are native)
Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)
Nectar; evergreen leaves provide protective cover
Greenbrier (Smilax spp.)
Fruit; thorny stems provide protective cover
American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)
Too often misidentified in nurseries – the much more common Oriental Bittersweet (C. scandens) is highly invasive

Other Plants

Black-eyed Susan
Native grasses

Practice conservation in your yard:
· Reduce or eliminate the use of commercial pesticides, especially ethyl parathion (trade names Parathion) and Folidol and carbofuran (trade name Furadan). For more info see American Bird Conservancy's Pesticides and Birds Campaign at it's website
· Many insects are beneficial in that they are a natural control for other insects. Know your good bugs.
· Reduce or eliminate the use of commercial herbicides.
· Reduce or eliminate the use of commercial fertilizers; use compost or organics such as nitrogen-rich soybean meal.
· Conserve water - use efficient watering systems and drought resistant plant varieties
· Avoid using invasive exotic plant species (for more information see the North Carolina Botanical Garden's Invasive Exotic Plants initiative at it's website
· Invasive plants impact birds in several ways. The most significant of these is they act as population sinks - attracting birds to an apparent resource that is not the same as the native resource.
· Create a "Mower-free Zone". Birds need and use overgrown grass, weeds, brush piles and dead wood. Wherever possible, leave some parts of your property un-landscaped and not mowed.
· Other reasons to reduce lawn size: Gas powered garden tools emit 5% of the nations' air pollution. Between 30% and 60% of drinking water use in urban areas goes to watering lawns - not drinking.
· Keep you cats indoors. Domestic cats that are allowed to roam outdoors are estimated to kill hundreds of millions of wild birds and over a billion small animals like rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels every year.

Other sources of information:
· Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program of the National Wildlife Federation
· The Wildlife Gardener by J. V. Dennis. 1985.
· The Naturalist's Garden by R. S. Ernst. 1987. Rodale Press.
· Landscaping for Wildlife by C. L. Henderson. 1989. Available from Minnesota Dept of Natural Resources bookstore at 1-800-652-9747.
· The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds. By S. Kress. 1985. Scribner's Sons publishers.
· Attracting Backyard Wildlife. By B. Merilees. 1989. Voyageur Press.
· Birds and Blooms magazine. Reiman Publications.
· Organic Gardening magazine.

Certify your yard:
· National Wildlife Federation
· National Audubon Society Garden Makeover Program
· American Wildlife Habitat Registry
WindStar's Top 40 Books For Improving Wildlife Habitats
Attracting Birds to Your Backyard Sally Roth Rodale Press
Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible Sally Roth Rodale Press
Backyard Bird-Lover’s Guide Jan Mahnken Storey Books
Big Book of Garden Design Time Life Books
Bird Garden Stephen W Kres DK Publishing
Birding - A Nature Company Guide Joseph Forshaw (Ed.) Time Life
Birdscaping Your Garden George Adams Rodale Press
Bluebirds Forever Connie Toops Voyageur Press
Book of North American Birds Reader's Digest
Folklore of Birds Laura C Martin Globe Pequot
Garden Birds of America George H Harrison Willow Creek Press
Garden Design Book Cheryl Merser Harpercollins
Garden Design Workbook John Brookes DK Publishing
Gardening for Wildlife Tufts, Loewer
Gardening in the Shade Better Homes and Gardens
Hummingbirds: Jewels in Flight Connie Toops Voyageur Press
Landscaping for Wildlife & Water Quality Carrol L Henderson Minnesota Bookstore
Landscaping Revolution Andy Wasowski Contemporary Books
Landscaping with Nature Jeff Cox Rodale Press
Natural Landscapes John Brookes DK Publishing
Natural Landscaping Sally Roth Rodale Press
Natural Shade Garden Ken Druse Clarkson Potter
Naturalist’s Garden Ruth S Ernst Globe Pequot Press
New Garden John Brookes
Noah’s Garden Sara Stein Houghton Mifflin
North American Birdfeeder Handbook Robert Burton
Private Lives of Garden Birds Calvin Simonds
Spiritual Gardening--Creating Sacred Space Outdoors Peg Streep Time Life
Summer Bird Feeding John V. Dennis
The Lawn--A History of the American Obsession Virginia Scott JenkinsSmithsonian Institution Press
The Natural Garden Book Peter Harper Gaia Books
Tough Plants for Tough Places : How to Grow 101 Easy-Care Plants for Every Part of Your Yard Peter Loewer Rodale Press
Water in the Garden James Allison Bulfinch Press
Wild About Birds - The DNR Bird Feeding Guide Carrol L Henderson
Minnesota Bookstore
Wild Lawn Handbook Stevie Daniels IDG Books Worldwide
Wild Neighbors Humane Society of the United States
Wildflower Meadow Book Laura C Martin
Wildlife Gardener John V Dennis Alfred A Knopf
Woodworking for Wildlife: Homes for Birds and Mammals Carrol L HendersonDIANE Publishing Co.
Your Backyard Wildlife Garden Marcus Schneck

Why go Native?

This is an excerpt from the best site I found that is written in NC about Gardening for is called Going Native and has so many resources, Why to go native, How to go native and includes a step-by-step guide!
Check it our yourself at

Why Go Native?
Why should you make the change to native plants in your landscape?
More Wildlife - Would you like to have more birds and butterflies in your backyard? Native animals are best adapted to native plants for food and cover, so a well-planned landscape of native plants can help you attract more wildlife to your property.
Low Maintenance - Plants native to an area are well suited to the local soils and climate, and require relatively little upkeep once established on an appropriate site.
Avoid Invasive Exotics - The spread of invasive, exotic plants poses a threat to native plants and animals around the world. You can do your part to slow down these threats in your area.
Balance Habitat Loss – With current human population growth, we are losing wildlife habitat at an alarming rate. You can help balance this loss by creating new habitat with native plants.
Avoid Common Mistakes – Many common landscaping practices, like planting only one species across a large area, are actually bad for wildlife. By creating an integrated native plant landscape you can avoid having a property that provides little or no habitat for wildlife.
Check out this 10-minute video to see and hear why you should go native!

A LIst of Native Plants in NC

This pdf file is the one I told you about in the class.
It has a lovely long list of native to NC plants that are described and categorized nicely!
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