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Growing the Suburban Wilds, One Yard at a Time

Lawn Gone Native aims to provide homeowners with easy-to-use information and tools to convert their lawns into ecologically connected, native gardens to service both the local environment and the homeowner. 


Check out the Lawn Gone Native website!


Penn State, Schreyer Honors College, Honors Thesis

Landscape Architecture, Web Design

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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.


The final product of the thesis is a website educating homeowners on the environmental impacts of lawns, the benefits of planting natives, and takes readers through a "Lawn Gone Native Guide" with sections outlining the basic knowledge needed and steps to be taken to turn a lawn into a thriving native garden. The main part of the project is four planting templates, designed for yards of various light and moisture conditions that homeowners can use to plant their own yards. A booklet is accompanies each template with species information for the plants in the template, suggested maintenance, and phasing out the planting process.

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Screenshot from "A Bit about Plants" page

Screenshots from the planting templates page

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