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What if there is a way to design and care for our yards so that they will produce food for us and restore our spirits, attract wildlife by offering habitat and food to pollinators, butterflies, and birds, combat climate change by drawing down and holding carbon, and soak up and hold rainwater so that it can recharge our local aquifer?

I’m telling you; this can be done very easily!

It starts with us beginning to rethink and reimagine what is possible in our yards. I have found that most people’s thoughts about how their yards are functioning are not actually how they are functioning.

Survey results of 31 homeowners that were polled showed that many homeowners want to mow and fertilize their lawns less. Most think soil health is extremely important and not a single person said they do not want birds, butterflies, and pollinators on their property. The majority say high chemical, labor, and water inputs harm the environment and hinder beauty in the landscape and the majority say that chemicals and non-native plants is an environmental concern (Rozelle, 2019).

Most of us don’t realize that many lawn care customs and practices are detrimental to the beauty and biodiversity that most of us want to find in our yards. I find hope in this. I believe many of you will choose to forego convention in favor of promoting beauty and biodiversity in your lawns once you realize your practices are inhibiting these things.

There are a number of factors that help people to live happy lives: Good health and the opportunity to experience beauty are extremely important. Without beauty and good health, humans will undoubtedly suffer both physically and psychologically.

This is not unique to us. All animals must have good health in order to thrive. Without it, they suffer as well.


Landscapes in Fort Wayne that offer us examples of beauty and eco-health are places like Eagle Marsh, Fox Island, Metea Park, Promenade park, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, and Franke Park. These places and others like them restore our spirits, act as catalysts to fuel our creativity, and provide us with an emotional connection to that place.

It’s this emotional connection that takes us out of our heads and into our hearts. We experience the wonders of nature around us and we are happy enjoying a moment of peacefulness. It is my hope that as you visit these public spaces and even my own property in Fort Wayne, you would experience the beauty of nature and envision this in your yard.


Some of you will be pioneers in Fort Wayne as you brave pushing against conventions.

Your influence will be foundational in helping others catch this vision. You will be the change agents in Fort Wayne as your yards become places that support biodiversity and beauty in our city. Your yards will be places that enrich our city, whose native plants give life to local fauna. Yards where visitors will come to play, take rest, and find refuge in.

As a result of this critical change in how you manage your yard, others will be inspired to make changes in their yards. Entire neighborhoods and our great city will be transformed.

People who visit Fort Wayne will experience a city unlike many they’ve experienced before. A city whose streets have an abundance of native vegetation, where wildflowers and prairie grasses grace the fronts of homes and businesses.


Ornamental trees like the native Dogwood and Hawthorn will welcome spring with beautiful flowers and the fall with bright red and orange berries. Massive old trees like the native Oak and Basswood will reach over 100ft above cooling us with their shade, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, and providing food for wildlife like squirrels, chipmunks, woodpeckers, and blue jays that we all enjoy watching. The abundance of birds will sing like a chorus from dawn to dusk, butterflies will fill the sky like a tapestry of color and the happy voices of children will be heard playing outside our homes. We will know our connection to the natural world and find wholeness living in Fort Wayne.

As Robin Wall Kimmerer said, “Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.”

Jay Rozelle

Jay Rozelle, M.A. is an environmental educator who focuses on helping to bring natural beauty and biodiversity to our own backyards. He also owns and manages Rozelle Lawn and Landscape and carries out many of his goals for sustainability through his business.

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