Lawn Gone Native: Growing the Suburban Wild, One Yard at a Time

Open Access
Roane-Hopkins, Zoe L
Area of Honors:
Landscape Architecture
Bachelor of Landscape Architecture
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Kenneth Tamminga, Thesis Supervisor
  • Larry James Gorenflo, Honors Advisor
  • Landscape architecture
  • Native plants
  • Planting design
  • Website
  • Lawn
  • Yard
  • Garden
Across the United States, lawns are wreaking havoc on our ecosystems. They replace native habitats with mono-culture carpets, and the extensive maintenance regimen consumes water, fertilizer, and energy, polluting our air and water. Society relies on the health of the interconnected environmental systems to clean our air and water and provide food. As these systems fracture and shrink, so too does our ability to thrive. Large ecological restoration projects do a great service to wildlife, but their value doesn’t always reach society. For society to care what happens to the insects, birds, and mammals, the connection between people and nature must be restored. The suburban lawn presents an opportunity to bring people back to these ecologies and to grow native habitats lost to the acres of turf. A wealth of information on native yard planting is spread across the internet and books, but for a busy homeowner, it can be difficult to figure out a first step. The Lawn Gone Native thesis project aims at creating a guide for homeowners that make it easier to convert a backyard of turf into a thriving ecosystem that supports birds, pollinators, and humanity.