Front yards are the perfect place for native plants. Please see the short article at the bottom of this page and share it as widely as possible.
Outreach of the month – put a sign in your front yard!
Please sign up to receive a 12”x9” yard sign to put in your front yard. We are piloting this project to see if the signs trigger the kind of personal conversations that can move someone from hearing about native plants to actually planting some. We’ll provide the signs and stakes for $5 (while supplies last) if you agree to report back to us after you have displayed it for a couple months where visitors, friends and neighbors can see it, next to a nice-looking native plant (which could simply be a tree.) Details here.
Coming soon: Mini-grants for invasive plant removal in Fairfax County
The Audubon-at-Home program has been given a grant from the Fairfax Tree Preservation and Planting Fund to divide among ten lucky communities for rescuing trees that are being threatened by certain invasive plants. The details are still being finalized, but if you live in a Fairfax County community association or faith community with common open space in need of tree rescues, you can start thinking about how you might prepare to apply for a grant. You can read a general outline and request a pre-application visit here: https://www.audubonva.org/tppf-grant. The general idea is that communities can apply for a reimbursement grant of $3,000, to be matched by $1500, for which volunteer labor is one option. The money can be used to save native trees that are at risk from any of these invasive non-native plants:
Invasive non-native vines
Tree-of-Heaven, Callery Pear, or Autumn Olive.
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Miércoles 31 de mayo, 7-8pm Elisa Meara: Las plantas nativas que nunca me fallan
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$25 off native trees and shrubs worth $50 or more at Burke Nursery, through June
The Virginia Department of Forestry is piloting a discount program for native trees and shrubs. Burke Nursery is one of three participating garden centers around the state. Purchasers will be asked to register their plantings.
How can you help celebrate “Celebrate Native Trees Week?”
Our celebratory initiative this year is going state-wide and will include the Monday holiday (October 2-9). Would you like to do a native tree-related event or promotion that week? Let us know, and we’ll add it to our web page. We are also seeking a volunteer to collect the responses, a simple job. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lake Accotink Park tree rescue project underway
Volunteers recently gathered to remove invasive vines that are threatening the trees and to plant 40 native tree seedlings in Lake Accotink Park. This was the kick-off event for a substantial grant to pay for professional invasive plant control in the park. Microsoft is proud to collaborate with the Society for Ecological Restoration to deliver standards-based ecological restoration with Fairfax County Park Authority, Friends of Accotink Creek, Fairfax ReLeaf, and Plant NOVA Natives/Plant NOVA Trees.
Can you help us reach other corporations?
One of our goals is to invite local corporations to participate in the regional native tree campaign. There are several opportunities for them to support the community that are described on the Plant NOVA Trees website. Can you join our new team that will be contacting companies? Email email@example.com.
Volunteers needed to do some emailing
We have an urgent need for a couple people who can help us coordinate some of our volunteers. This would take several hours twice a year plus intermittent emailing in between. Contact us if you can help. firstname.lastname@example.org
Invasives removal training for the GW Memorial Parkway
Spring and summer training sessions are coming up. Details and registration here.
A shorter session just for English Ivy is also planned.
Report your native tree and shrub plantings
Please help Northern Virginia meet its tree-planting obligations by reporting your tree and shrub plantings here. So far 12,091 have been reported!
Report your tree rescues
Millions of trees are at risk from invasive non-native vines. You can help save them on your own land or by volunteering on public land. So far, 8,682 tree rescues have been reported in Northern Virginia. Please add your report here.
Next Steering Committee meeting – via videoconferencing – All are welcome. Tuesday, June 13, 10:00am-noon. Check our Event Calendar for future meetings.
This month’s newsletter article to share – Please use this link for social media.
Front yard landscaping, reimagined
Originality has not been what springs to mind when looking at most front yards, but now people are starting to tweak the conventions by putting native plants front and center on their properties. There are around two hundred species of native plants that are eminently suitable for the formal or semiformal areas of our homes or businesses. There is no need to confine those plants to our back yards. They add curb appeal to any property while simultaneously supporting the songbirds, butterflies, and other critters that so desperately need our help to survive in a suburban or urban environment.
For anyone who prefers to keep their shrubs and flowers up against the house, there are plenty of neat-and-tidy native plants that do well in that setting. Recommendations can be found on the foundation plantings page on the Plant NOVA Natives website.
For those interested in rethinking the layout of their yard, there are many ways to do that.
Pictured here is a front yard in which half the space has been filled with native plants (as opposed to turf grass, which is non-native and therefore does not support our local fauna.) The small number of species planted in large masses makes a strong impact while minimizing the expertise needed for maintenance. The tree has been protected from soil compaction and lawn mower damage, both of which are a risk to trees surrounded by turf grass.
A planting bed along the sidewalk would have the advantage of capturing stormwater runoff before it hits the street. Runoff from impervious surfaces and lawns causes degradation of our streams and the Chesapeake Bay. If taller plants are used, they can create a sense of privacy and make the space more usable.
A curved planting bed in the middle of the yard can be easily mowed around and could consist of flowers for those who like to garden or a small grove of native trees and shrubs for those who don’t.
The entire yard could be replaced by native plants along curved paths. The easiest design would consist of trees, shrubs, and groundcovers. Losing the lawn is seldom a problem, since most people don’t run around on their front lawn anyway.
At the other end of the effort spectrum, planting a single native shade tree in the lawn would confer the most benefit for the least amount of work.
Famous American ecologist E. O. Wilson urged us to set aside half of the Earth’s surface for nature, thus enabling us to preserve biodiversity and avert mass extinction (including our own extinction). That goal cannot be achieved by setting aside deserts and mountaintops while devoting the rich lands to human activities. The set-aside land must include areas such as our eastern states that support the most biodiversity. Most of that land is privately owned, so it is up to each of us to contribute anything we can. Considering how much of our suburban/urban land is covered with built structures, any piece of land that isn’t occupied by a building or road would best be devoted to native trees and other native plants. Instead of adding to habitat loss, our front yards can be part of the solution while beautifying our properties and increasing home values. For details on designing a landscape using native plants, see the Plant NOVA Natives website.