Climate Change: Regenerative Landscape

Climate Change: Regenerative Landscape

Regenerative Landscaping Lectures

During the summer of 2020, Dr. Sara Via presented a series of six webinars on regenerative strategies for agriculture, gardening and landscaping, and the impact of climate change. To see the topics and access videos of the presentations, click here.

Dr Via spoke at a UUCC Climate Forum on Regenerative Landscaping on June 7 titled Lawn Alternatives to Help the Planet. The default approach to suburban landscaping is mowed lawn and lots of it.  Though lawn may seem like the obvious choice for yards and general landscaping, it comes with a staggering environmental cost.  In the Regenerative Landscaping project, we will be trying out some alternative approaches.  One is to replace lawn with low-growing mixes of grasses and clovers that require little mowing and virtually no fertilizer or chemicals.  These “lawn mimics” are far more climate-friendly yet retain the overall appearance and openness of regular lawn.  Also great for the climate is replacing sections of lawn with deep-rooted perennial plants that build soil health, allow more stormwater to infiltrate, improve water quality and even store atmospheric carbon in the soil.  In this forum you will learn more about this approach.  Preliminary information will be shared about ongoing experiments to test different lawn mimic mixes, ways to convert a regular lawn into a lawn mimic and planting strategies for weed-free pollinator plots.  You might even get some ideas to try in your own yard!

Contact: Sara Via and Ann Wing

Million Acre Challenge

The Million Acre Challenge is an ambitious initiative  to support healthy soils on Maryland farms and across the greater Chesapeake region. This new collaborative project aims to catalyze the growing movement to achieve no fewer than one million acres of healthy soil in Maryland by 2030.   The first step was a Soil Health Benchmark Study.


This group’s focus is on using native plant alternatives to grass, such as microclover and fine fescue, that will soak up carbon dioxide. Replacing grass with these alternatives could have a bigger effect to slow warming than many of the other things being pursued. Fossil fuels used in mowing will be reduced as will fertilizers and pesticides. By demonstrating the feasibility of growing these plants in various soil, sun, and moisture conditions, we expect to convince the Columbia Association and Howard County to convert from grass in some of their areas.

History of Meetings

The team met on January 26, 2020. Twenty-eight people attended. Sara Via described the work to be carried out under her grant. “Lawn mimics”, mini clover and fine fescue, will be tested with different proportions on plots in both sun and shade. The perennials will be tested with various techniques for weed control: hand weeding, buckwheat interseeding, clover interseeding, and planting through kraft paper. Some of the test plots will be at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center and some on Howard County government property. Sixteen people volunteered to help with with work at OBIC. Nine people volunteered to help with work on the Howard County property.

The team met on December 15, 2019. Sara and Ann have identified places on the OBIC grounds where grass alternatives could be planted as a demonstration project. Two attendees volunteered their lawns for test plots. In addition to the microclover and fine fescue mixes, we will test how to control weeds in pollinator gardens with different planting treatments. The team is also looking for people with stream erosion in their yards to demonstrate Virginia wild rye, an “awesome plant” with deep roots, as a way to prevent erosion. Volunteers to help in planting will be needed in mid March.