Native plants in a Jersey-Friendly yard
Native plants in a Jersey-Friendly front yard (photo by Becky Laboy)

Back to Basics: 8 Steps to a Jersey-Friendly Yard

This year’s webinar series reminds us that a Jersey-Friendly Yard doesn’t have to be a monumental task. Start small and start with the basics. Each program in this series ties to one of the 8 Steps to a Jersey-Friendly Yard. Join us as we incorporate these basic components into our landscaping practices, resulting in a beautiful and healthy Jersey-friendly Yard!

About the Webinars

Jersey-Friendly Yards webinars are free and provided via WebEx Events. They are on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm. The live sessions are an hour long including time for questions. To join the webinars, you will need either a computer, tablet, or smartphone with speakers. After each webinar and with presenter permission, we add a link to a video recording of the webinar to this page.

If you have any questions about the 2022 webinar series, please contact Karen Walzer at

2022 Webinars

View a 2022 webinar by clicking on the link to a recording.

September 13 at 7 pm
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in Your Yard

View a recording of the webinar using this Password: JFYstep8.
Download a PDF of the presentation.

Learn how to compost your yard waste in place! Stop sending leaves, grass clippings, and spent plants to the curb. Composting at home gives you the power of nurturing the soil that will provide you with food, clean water, and air while treating yard waste right at the source. By practicing the art of composting, you can attract beautiful wildlife to your yard and create a healthy ecosystem. Composting can reduce greenhouse gases, preserve valuable landfill space, and save you time and money; in a few words, it is a great way to improve our environment and go on a path of sustainability.
Presenter: Sandra Blain-Snow, Assistant Administrative Analyst, Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management

August 9 at 7 pm
Create Wildlife Habitat in Your Jersey-Friendly Yard

View a recording of the webinar using this Password: JFYstep7.
Download the Resource list for this webinar.

All creatures need to eat, drink, hide from predators, take cover from harsh weather, and safely raise their young. Whatever the size of your yard, learn how you can transform it into a haven for wildlife.
Presenter: Kathleen Kerwin, Program Associate, Wildlife Conservation and Management Program with Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

July 12 at 7 pm
Lose the Lawn, Create a Wildflower Meadow Instead

A recording of this webinar is no longer available. Pat’s handouts about how to create a wildflower meadow are available on her website.

Learn how to enhance your property’s landscaping for wildlife by creating a wildflower meadow. Lawns are monocultures that are green deserts for wildlife, offering no cover, no food (nectar, seeds, etc.), and no beauty (blooming wildflowers and lovely native grasses). Consider turning some lawn into a wildflower meadow instead. Even a small “pocket meadow” will make a big difference to wildlife. A meadow can be simple to create, and Pat will share the basics. Learn how to convert lawn to meadow, how to maintain your meadow in a simple fashion over time, and how to make it acceptable and attractive to neighbors and visitors.
Presenter: Pat Sutton, Naturalist and Educator, Pat Sutton’s Wildlife Garden

June 14 at 7 pm
Minimize Risks and Protect Pollinators When Managing Pests

View a recording of this webinar.

Join us as we learn how to manage pests while protecting pollinators in home landscapes. Along with providing flowering plants and undisturbed places to nest, home gardens also need to be protected from pesticides. This webinar will discuss some of the key pesticide concerns for pollinators, offer simple pest management tips for home landscapes, give you ideas of how to make your garden more resilient to pest pressure, and help you identify and respond to any pests that do arrive.
Presenter: Emily May, Pollinator Conservation Specialist, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

May 10
Fertilize Less: Rely More on Nature

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Learn the basic principles of how to rely less on fertilizer and more on nature. We will discuss how to manage soil and optimize plant growth in your yard using an organic, holistic approach. By building on a foundation of biologically active soil with proper plant selection, you can grow healthy plants and reduce dependency on fertilizers.
Presenter: Chris Adams, Owner, Eastbound LLC

April 12
Water Wisely

View a recording of this webinar.
Download a PDF of the presentation.

Over 750 million gallons of water are used in NJ every day to irrigate our yards. Up to 50% of the water used outdoors is wasted from inefficient watering methods and systems. This excess water from inefficient watering runs off yards and down storm drains, and picks up fertilizers, pesticides, and other pollutants and carries them into local rivers, lakes, and bays. You’ll learn ways to conserve water and restore the cycle of water moving through our environment.  ‘Water’ you doing right and wrong with your yard?
Presenter: Dr. Steve Yergeau, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Agent/Associate Professor with Ocean and Atlantic Counties

March 8
Start with Healthy Soil

View a recording of this webinar.

A healthy garden starts with healthy soil. We will explore the basics about the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil as they pertain to the foundation of a successful Jersey-Friendly garden. We’ll showcase some of our favorite Jersey-Friendly flowers, vines, grasses, shrubs and trees and discuss the soil texture, soil pH and soil moisture content these plants need to be happy and healthy!
Presenter: Becky Laboy, Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District

February 8
Plan Before You Plant

View a recording of this webinar.

There’s a lot to think about before putting your shovel in the ground to create a Jersey-Friendly garden, including the purpose for your garden, conditions at your site, and selection of the appropriate plants.  Whether planning a garden at home or at a community location, join us for some pointers on how to properly “Plan Before You Plant.” 
Presenter: Becky Laboy, Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District

About the Presenters

Chris Adams
A passion for nature and the outdoors led Chris to obtain a B.S. in Agronomy & Environmental Science, with a concentration in Soil Science, as well as a minor in Horticulture, from Delaware Valley College in 2013. Chris has worked for the USDA-NRCS as a subaqueous soil scientist, managed two organic vegetable farms in Ocean County, and worked as an agronomist for a large landscaping company. He now owns and operates his own business, Eastbound LLC, specializing in edible landscapes, organic gardens and organic plant health care. Chris is passionate about managing the home landscape in an organic way, to minimize harm to our local watersheds, and to support local ecology by incorporating native plants, pollinator habitat and also edible plants, trees and vegetable gardens.

Sandra Blain-Snow
A life-long composter and gardener, Sandra honed her composting skills by enrolling in the Master Composter Class in 2001. She stepped into the role of instructor for the program in 2006. As an advocate for composting and an avid vermicomposter, she has concentrated her efforts on public outreach.  Since 2018, Sandra has worked for the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management, which oversees recycling in the county and sponsors the Master Composter Program.  In her spare time, Sandra is an ardent gardener, animal lover, and amateur bird watcher.

Kathleen Kerwin
Kathleen received an undergraduate degree in Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources from Rutgers University in 2012, and a master’s degree in Ecology and Evolution in 2014. She has a strong background in wildlife monitoring and management, with project experience throughout the United States. Kathleen joined Rutgers’ Wildlife Conservation and Management Program in 2015. Her responsibilities include development and delivery of extension and education programming, program management, and delivery of extension services.

Becky Laboy
Becky is the full-time Education Outreach Specialist with the Ocean County Soil Conservation District. She has over 20 years of experience as a formal classroom teacher and informal environmental educator. Becky also serves as a co-leader for the Jersey Shore Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. In her spare time, Becky can usually be found behind a pair of binoculars as an avid and devoted birder.

Emily May
Emily is a Pollinator Conservation Specialist with the Xerces Society’s Pesticide Program. She received a master’s of science in entomology from Michigan State University, and has studied pollinator habitat restoration, bee nesting habits, and the effects of pest management practices on wild bee communities. Her work with Xerces since 2015 has focused on supporting crop pollinators through habitat creation and protecting bees and other beneficial insects from pesticides.

Pat Sutton
Pat has keenly studied the natural world for over 40 years, first as the naturalist at the Cape May Point State Park in the 1970s and 1980s and then for 21 years  as the naturalist and program director at the Cape May Bird Observatory (1986 to 2007). She has an undergraduate degree in Literature and a Masters Degree in Environmental Education. Pat and her husband (Clay Sutton) have written a number of books: Birds and Birding at Cape May (2006), How to Spot Butterflies (1999), How to Spot Hawks & Eagles (1996), and How to Spot an Owl (1994). Today Pat is a free-lance writer, photographer, naturalist, educator, lecturer, tour leader, and wildlife habitat / conservation gardening champion! She is a passionate wildlife habitat gardener and advocate for butterflies, moths, bees (all pollinators), birds, dragonflies, frogs, toads, and other critters. Pat has taught about wildlife-friendly and native plant gardening for over 30 years. Her own wildlife garden is a “teaching garden” featured in many programs, workshops, and garden tours.  For more information, visit Pat Sutton’s Wildlife Garden.

Dr. Steve Yergeau
Dr. Yergeau is the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Agent/Associate Professor with Ocean and Atlantic Counties where he conducts education programs and research addressing water resource protection and management. He works with homeowners, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations to implement programs to support sustainable environmental management.  Steve received a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from Rutgers University in 2010 and has over 25 years of experience in coastal water quality management.