PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The suburban landscape is looking a little different in parts of Long Island.
Some homeowners are ditching the traditional grass lawn for something more native.
Maria Shapiro of Port Washington did what was once unthinkable in suburbia. She killed off her lawn, deliberately.
“I noticed there was no butterflies, no insects, absolutely positively no sign of life on the grass,” Shapiro told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff on Wednesday.
So she replaced much of her grass with native plants and, suddenly, some winged friends showed up.
“Nature is here right in our front yard, and you can actually enjoy watching it,” Shapiro said.
What did the neighbors think? Some liked what they saw so much, they ditched half of their front lawns, too.
“I love the idea of bringing wildlife that’s native to my area,” one person said.
“We killed our lawn. We may do more of it,” another added.
They’re homeowners, killing off the status symbols of the suburbs. Lush lawns are passe. Native is becoming the new normal.
The North Shore Audubon Society‘s Peggy Maslow calls lawns a wasteland.
“Grass has no value at all to wildlife, none at all,” Maslow said. “If you don’t have native plants then you won’t have wildlife. You won’t have the insects. You won’t have the birds. It’s very simple. They are very beneficial, insects. They are also pollinators.”
Maslow helped Shapiro and other residents plan their native plant gardens, including choosing and ordering the plants and their placement.
Raju Rajan, president of the group ReWild Long Island, dug out a swath of his backyard, replacing it with a native plant meadow.
“I don’t need fertilizers. I don’t need any pesticides,” Rajan said. “They evolved on Long Island for millions of years. None of us were around to water or weed them. They do just fine.”
And all the beneficial insects and pollinators have a perk.
“Every tomato flower turns into a tomato full of seeds. Every been stalk is bursting with beans. Peas are doing fantastic,” Rajan said.
And the beauty of it is anyone can do it. Start small by covering a patch of grass with cardboard to kill it off and any weeds. Then, cover it with mulch, cut holes for plants and nature takes care of the rest.
It’s a different look, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
“It looks very different to a human than it looks to a bird, than it looks to a bee, than it looks to an insect, and each of them sees a different beauty in it,” Rajan said.
It sure is beautiful to these homeowners, considering also the savings on lawn care and the saving of wildlife.
For more information on ReWild Long Island, please click here.
Also, if you’re interested in planting native plants, contact the North Shore Audubon Society’s Maslow at Nsaudubonsociety@gmail.com for assistance.
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