Climate Change: Regenerative Landscape

Climate Change: Regenerative Landscape

Climate Webinar Series

Sara Via, who gave a series of webinars on regenerative strategies for agriculture, gardening and landscaping, and the impact of climate change last summer, is back with a new webinar series on various climate topics beginning  at 4 PM EDT on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, and continuing every two weeks through Wednesday, September 15, 2021 (see descriptions below).  FREE.
June 23, 2021   Climate impacts on insects and native plants: Restoring biodiversity 
Habitat shrinkage and degradation from climate change has decimated the diversity of insects & native plants. Why does this matter and how can we protect & restore the biodiversity on which we all depend?  How will conserving 30% of the nation’s land by 2030 help? What can you do in your own yard to be a biodiversity booster?
July 7, 2021   Natural climate solutions: Letting plants reduce atmospheric CO2
Part of the carbon that plants remove from the atmosphere during photosynthesis is stored in wood and/or soil.  How large is the impact of these natural climate solutions and how can we use them most effectively?
July 21, 2021   Don’t mess with the carbon cycle & the path(s) to “net-zero”
To get us out of the serious trouble caused by altering the climate cycle, governments and corporations are promising to reach “net-zero” by 2050.  What do those promises mean, what actions are being taken and will they work? This is a time for great optimism, yet challenges remain. Learn how each of us can help.
Aug. 4, 2021   Your carbon footprint and how to shrink it
It can be sobering to realize how our personal actions contribute to climate change, yet the first step to making a difference is knowing what these impacts are.  Learn how your carbon footprint compares to others nation-wide and in your community and check out 25 ways to reduce your impact.  
Aug. 18, 2021   Taming residential food waste
Up to 40% of all food produced in the US is wasted and the majority of food waste occurs in our homes.  This means that we can each really make a difference.  Learn some easy ways to reduce food waste at your house, and while you help save the planet, you’ll save some money too.
Sept. 1, 2021   Moderation in all things: Moving toward a plant-based diet
Dietary choices are often steeped in family and cultural traditions & can become part of one’s identity.  How can we make our diets more climate-friendly (and healthier) without rocking the boat too much?  Change doesn’t have to be instantaneous or “all or nothing” to make a difference; learn some easy ways to transition your diet.
Sept. 15, 2021   How well do different policies work to curb climate change?  
Test your favorite policy solutions with the EnROADS climate simulator  
Many policies have been suggested to curb climate change—putting a price on carbon, planting trees, using electric cars, increasing energy efficiency, etc.  But how much difference is each policy likely to make?  Using the EnROADS climate simulator from MIT and Climate Interactive like a time machine, we can test how well your favorite policies work to keep global temperature increase below the all-important 1.5oC. You may be surprised!

Native Plants Save Birds

Native plants are essential in a regenerative landscape and save birds at the same time.


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

After a year when activities were curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Regenerative Landscape team met via Zoom on Friday, January 22, 2021. Eleven people participated. Dr. Sara Via described her experience with experimental plots growing lawn mimics and pollinator plants during the past year. She showed images of her results. She found that starting the lawn mimics in late August or early September after removing weeds works best. The planting in spring was dominated by weeds and simply overseeding existing grass failed.

Sara experimented with several methods of suppressing weeds while growing perennials in a pollinator bed. What worked best was to make holes in the ground into which to place the young plants, then cover the plot with the horticultural paper (WeedGuard Plus), cut holes or slits in the paper above the holes, and finally insert the plants into the holes. She recommended starting the perennials from seeds in flats on shelving under shop lights in your home in a month or so, and then planting them in June.

Sara offered to provide advice, pollinator seeds, and shop lights to interested people.

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.