Step 6: Reduce Lawn Size
Lawns are considered to be “ecological deserts” because they support little, if any, life. By replacing lawn with native gardens and landscapes, you can attract and support pollinators and wildlife, while reducing mowing and eliminating chemical fertilizers and pesticide use.
Why It’s Important
Although some turf grass on school grounds is essential for sports and recreation, unused lawn can be eliminated and replaced with environmentally friendly alternatives.
Wildflower meadows, rain gardens, or broadened foundational plantings can provide important environmental services. Deep-rooted native plants help create healthy soil, which aids in redirecting stormwater into the ground, lessoning chances of street flooding, and preventing pollutants from entering storm drains, streams, rivers and bays.
Visit Step 6: Reduce Lawn Size on the Jersey-Friendly Yards website for more tips, tools and resources. Visit New Jersey Native Plants to learn more about the benefits of native trees, shrubs and flowers. Visit Avoid Invasive Plants to learn how invasive are a detriment to our native landscapes, and why we should plant natives.
6A: Learn about the benefits of native plants.
Provide a lesson to your students about native plants and their ecological benefits to our environment. Identifying and understanding the needs of native plants will help guide your species selection for your garden.
Resources for Lessons about Native Plants
- Project Botany: Exploring Native Plants of the United States – An Ecoregional Curriculum by the Institute for Applied Ecology (AG)
- Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership: Native and Invasive Plants Lesson (UE)
- National Environmental Education Foundation: Hands On the Land – a classroom investigation series, created in partnership with Bureau of Land Management: Native Plants Classroom Investigation (MS)
General Resources about Native Plants
- Jersey-Friendly Yards: NJ Native Plants
- Jersey-Friendly Yards Plant Database
- Going Native: A Guide to Landscaping with Native Plants in the Barnegat Bay Watershed
- Audubon: Why Native Plants Matter
- Native Plant Society of New Jersey
- University of California Phenology Gardens
- National Wildlife Federation Native Plant Finder
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center
- Pinelands Preservation Alliance: Plants of the Pine Barrens Ecosystem
- Wild Ones: Cultivating a Community of Support for Native Plants
- Rutgers Fact Sheet and Plant List – Incorporating Native Plants in your Residential Landscape
6B: Learn about the harmful impacts of invasive plant species.
Provide a lesson to your students about invasive plant species. What are the implications of invasive species on our native ecosystems? What are some local level solutions?
Resources for Lessons about Invasive Species
- Science Lessons that Rock: Invasive Species Teaching Resources (AG)
- Project Learning Tree (PTL) – Invasive Species (PK-MS)
- Invasive Species Center: Teaching About Invasive Species (UE)
- Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System: Invasive Species (UE)
- Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education: Invasive Species (MS)
General Resources about Invasive Species
- Project Learning Tree – STEM: Invasive Species
- Jersey-Friendly Yards – Avoid Invasive Plants
- USDA – National Invasive Species Information Center for Educators
- Go Green Galloway – Invasive Plants information and video
- Purdue Extension – The Nature of Teaching – Invasive Plants: Impact on Environment and People
- New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team
- National Geographic: Introduction to Invasive Species