Lars & Jestina

Designed By: Homeowners

Installed By: Homeowners

Started: Front in spring 2020; bog in spring 2022; back in winter 2022; work is ongoing.

Percentage of Native Plants: 90%

Amount of Sun and Shade: Mixed sun/shade.

Unique Features and Animals: Bog (side yard) supports butterfly host plants. Front retaining wall keeps soil/mulch/debris out of the storm drain while keeping torpedo grass & dollar weed out of our yard. Other than our bog, all other plants are drought tolerant. Over 135 species of birds (, approximately 75+ species of butterflies & moths; many other pollinators, native snakes, legless lizards, moles, even a marsh rabbit.

Landscape Description: “Plant it & they will come! Avid birders, our primary native landscaping goal is attracting more birds to our standard 0.25-acre residential lot. We now have an incredibly productive native “land reef” amidst the non-native yards around us. We’ve counted over 150 bird species (includes flyovers) since converting our front lawn into a wildland during the spring of 2020. Now, the more birds we get, the more bird species we get, including more and more rarities, like the first hooded oriole recorded on the Atlantic Coast!

The front porch is our favorite place to relax with a cup of morning joe or to “wine down” after work. This wild yard is now our refuge as much as one for the birds. In May 2022 we added a butterfly bog in our side yard; this past winter we began converting our back yard into more native habitat. Our secondary goal is attracting more butterflies, moths, & pollinators with both host & nectar plants; we’ve counted approximately 75 species of butterflies & moths since replanting, and we love to photograph them.

Challenges: Maintaining sufficient host plants for the waves of hungry caterpillars (especially milkweed), tropical storms (Nicole took the top 25 feet off our gumbo limbo) and finding the most productive plants for our landscape. As the trees & shrubs grow taller, we’ll be adding more understory plants. There are many more natives we’d like to include (we’ve already planted over 100 native species), but we lack the space to accommodate them all! Removing invasive & non-native weeds, plants, & most trees (remaining non-natives support either butterflies or birds). Enriching depleted yard with organic soil & compost.

Certifications: National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat Landscape, North American Butterfly Association certified butterfly & monarch garden. Keep Brevard Beautiful Lagoon Friendly Lawn Silver certification.