Talk series explores 'bringing nature home'

The owner of this Heights yard mows not at all.

Northeast Ohio barely had a snowy winter, and spring is here with green shoots popping up everywhere. Also emerging in our neighborhoods is a movement to look at green spaces differently. Instead of feeding, weeding, and mowing lawns, some landowners are growing more and mowing less.

The movement is inspired, in part, by entomologist Doug Tallamy. His books, Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants and Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard, are calls to action to restore biodiversity at home. According to Tallamy, more than 40 million acres of land in America are covered by turf grass. This monoculture results in a lack of biodiversity, increased air pollution, and fertilizer runoff into watersheds. Reducing lawns in parks and yards is an important step toward a healthy ecosystem. 

In partnership, Cleveland Heights Parks & Recreation and Friends of Heights Parks are presenting a series of talks titled “Bringing Nature Home.” The talks given thus far—on our watershed, park history, invasive plant species, and gardening for birds—have been well-attended and full of questions.

The final two talks will offer practical steps residents can take to reduce their lawns. Details and registration information can be found at

On Saturday, April 13, 10 a.m. to noon, the talk will focus on the Heights Native Pollinator Path, a project Peggy Spaeth (co-writer of this article) initiated in 2019 to benefit nature by connecting habitat fragments in the Heights’ urban environment. She will illustrate, through images, how her yard was transformed into native habitat a few plants at a Learn what to plant in your own yard to be part of a nature-based solution to the climate emergency.

On Saturday, May 4, 10 a.m. to noon, landscape designer and arborist Kate Small (also co-writer of this article) will present “Grow More, Mow Less.” Learn how and why to replace lawn with the native shrubs, sedges, grasses, ferns, and perennials preferred by native insects and birds, to support biodiversity and do away with the negative impacts of traditional landscapes.

Heights Libraries and The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes are also offering talks to educate and inspire Heights residents to bring nature home. For a full listing of talks and programs, visit

Peggy Spaeth and Kate Smal

Peggy Spaeth and Kate Small are board members of Friends of Heights Parks, working to cultivate public and private spaces that thrive in harmony with the natural world.

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Volume 17, Issue 4, Posted 10:31 AM, 03.28.2024