Bug Light Park in South Portland. (Staff Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)

South Portland Public Library is holding an event on creating a biodiverse and climate resilient yard on May 17 at 6:30 p.m. The library will host visitors from the Wild Seed Project and the South Portland Sustainability Department.

Creating a more natural yard with native plants offers benefits such as natural beauty, storing atmospheric carbon, minimizing flooding and storm water runoff, purifying air, shading and cooling cities, and helping sustain birds, important pollinators, and other wildlife.

“We are having Wild Seed come and do a presentation on how to build a climate resilient yard and what steps property owners and gardeners can take to implement that and make their gardens look good,” said Outreach Librarian Lisa Joyce. “And it mostly focuses on using native species and better landscaping practices, which you know, allow you to recover more water and things like that.”

The educational event is part of the push to change the idea of what a normal yard should like: a natural, beautiful, and sustainable yard rather than a straight-cut all-grass yard. The event follows the 100 Resilient Yards program in South Portland, which helped residents create ecologically sustainable yards on their properties.

Properties can be turned into organic lawns, rain gardens, pollinator gardens, vegetable gardens, native plantings, and more. Many people do not know how to make these transitions, and the educational event will answer many questions.

“I think what we want to do is change the traditional sort of paradigm around people’s yards, that say you need a pristine lawn, and for that you need to have chemical inputs like chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” said South Portland Sustainability Director Julie Rosenbach, on 100 Resilient Yards. “And what we want to do is really encourage people to cultivate resilient yards. And then it starts literally from the ground up, with healthy soil and from there healthy soil will help people have healthy plants.”

Sustainable yards increase their resiliencies to climate factors that may affect them, such as being in flood-prone locations, soil compaction, erosion, industrial contamination, lack of soil nutrients, invasive species, weeds, shore land or wetland areas, and/or lack of trees or green space.

“They say right plant, right place, right time,” Rosenbach said. “And we want to make sure that if people are trying to grow grass where it’s shady and wet, that might be better suited to a rain garden, or help people to transition a yard that needs to be mowed all the time with a pollinator garden or a vegetable garden … that will bring wildlife and pollinators.”

Similar talks will be held at the library in the fall.

Courtesy of South Portland Public Library

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