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Good Steward Post

Biodiversity and Backyard Conservation

Conservationists have long taught that healthy ecosystems are widely diverse - the more species in an environment, the healthier it is. For reference read this article from the University of Adelaide. Healthy ecosystems are more resistant to disease and pestilence, they also are more resistant to invasive plant species. Researchers also claim healthy ecosystems are better for humanity, some going as far to say humanity is entirely dependent on biodiverse ecosystems. For further reading on this specific topic read this article from the U.S. National Park Service.


For those of us who are concerned with this biodiversity, what can be done? If you are like most homeowners, your yard is mostly lawn. When it comes to biodiversity, lawns are barren, ecological dead spaces. As I have written before, if we are to care for our private backyard domains as Stewards to support local wildlife, we can look to convert our existing lawns to native plants. Not only are native plants the best food source for wildlife, many species thrive with competition from other species. Some species are even dependent on the presence of other plants! Illinois is one of the most diverse states having approximately 3,600 different native plants!



When we first purchased our house, the existing lawn had a handful of species of plants (not including the trees, shrubs, and an existing flower garden). Only one of those "lawn" plants was a native, the Illinois state flower, the common violet, viola sororia. To begin converting our lawn we have installed a wildflower garden, two prairie corners, and a koi pond designed for wildlife. With these steps we have added over 75 species of native plants to our yard providing habitat, food, and clean water for wildlife. Since we began this conversion in late 2021, we have seen an abundance of active wildlife in our yard. Butterflies, moths, harmless bees, and pollinating flies visit our native flowers, and those insects are a food source for visiting birds. During the summer we enjoy watching the light shows from our resident fireflies.


The late conservationist E.O. Wilson claimed in order for humanity to preserve the world's biodiversity, half of the world's ecosystems need to be preserved. Doug Tallamy, author of Nature' Best Hope, estimates the U.S. currently has 40 million acres of lawn. If Americans were to convert half of their lawns, the new 20 million acre space would effectively become the country's largest national park, a concept he calls the Homegrown National Park.


Join the movement and add your own property to the map! In addition to our landscaping services, we also offer consultation services for do-it-yourselfers and we offer limited retail of native plants!

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