PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A new gardening movement is planting its roots on Long Island.

Dozens of families in Port Washington are doing something called “rewilding” to their lawns, CBSN New York’s Lisa Rozner reported Tuesday.

This is really about looking at your lawn in a new way, focusing on native plants while reducing the use of chemicals and water.

Black-eyed Susan (Photo: CBSN New York)

Inevitably, people who have done it say it leads to more birds and bees.

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On Fairview Avenue, Annemarie Ansel has added native plants to her yard, including blueberry bushes, wild strawberries and cranberry bushes, black eyed Susans and anise hyssops. She also got rid of all her grass and replaced it with creeping phlox.

“Once it’s established I don’t have to water it. I don’t have to mow it. I don’t have to do anything. It just grows,” Ansel said.

A non-profit called Rewild Long Island is behind the movement and Raju Rajan is its president.

“I think we’re on the cutting edge of a movement. We are where organics was in the 1990s,” Rajan said. “There’s no reason why we can’t save money and have good aesthetics.”

Laurie Courage said she was doing organic lawn care for years. After she changed over to rewilding, she saw, “The tomatoes were bigger. The zucchini was bigger. Many, many different types of birds and butterflies, more than I’ve ever seen before.”

Rajan said the group is working with landscape architect Rusty Schmidt, who founded a group called Long Island Native Plant Initiative.

Rajan said Schmidt looked at many factors in helping the residents come up with a specific plan for their yards.

“Some of us wanted edible natives. One of us was an artist who wanted dyes and plants Native Americans used to use to make artwork. So depending on our aesthetics, depending on when we wanted things to flower, what our favorite colors were and what our yard design was, he came up with wonderful designs,” Rajan said.

This movement isn’t just for personal properties. The group is also rewilding at some public places on Long Island, including the Sands Point Reserve and the Nassau County Museum of Art.

The organization is turning around some public spaces and is looking for 24 more families who want to rewild this year. People interested in helping can find more information at rewildlongisland.org.

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