Yards Alive is an exciting new program established to educate homeowners about more sustainable landscaping practices.

Homeowners are encouraged to consider alternatives to the traditional turf grass yard in favor of ecologically friendly alternatives. The traditional lawn requires frequent watering plus regular applications of chemical fertilizers and herbicides to maintain its appearance. These chemicals frequently end up polluting our waterways and lead to severe monetary and ecological costs. The maintenance to these lawns also requires the use of large amounts of fossil fuels. Turfgrass can slow soil erosion and absorb some pollutants, but there are many beautiful native plants, shrubs, and trees that will perform the same job much more effectively without the use of problematic fertilizers and fossil fuels.  Native plants also feed and support insects and birds much more than typical landscaping plants.

The program seeks to help homeowners identify alternative uses for much of the space taken up by turfgrass. Example yards are provided for inspiration, advice on plant selection and to connect residents that need help with planting with volunteers. We are hoping to replace a large portion of residential turf grass with native gardens so that our Columbia yards can be havens for bees, songbirds, butterflies, insects, and other pollinators who have seen their habitats decrease as land development has increased.

The first pilot program will be located in the village of Oakland Mills. Six yards have been chosen as example houses for inspiration:

If you are an Oakland Mills resident and would like assistance decreasing the grass in your yard or if you are interested in volunteering to help a neighbor transform their yard, email yardsaliveom@gmail.com.

If you are not an Oakland Mills resident, we are happy to talk with you about setting up a similar program in your neighborhood. Check out our blog for advice and examples of neighborhood projects going on right now.

Links to Additional Information