About the Project
Lawn to Wildflowers is public participation science project focused on turning grass lawns into pollinator-friendly wildflower habitats. Public participation science is research conducted by the general public in collaboration with researchers. By working with people around the country, we are growing a movement that makes the places where we live more beautiful and more environmentally friendly. In the process, we will learn how to best create habitats that promote native biodiversity. This project has three major goals:
To Enable people throughout the country to convert grass lawns to native wildflowers.
We will do this by providing easy-to-follow instructions and videos for lawn-to-wildflower restoration techniques and by making it simple to purchase the appropriate native seed mixes. The focus of these wildflower habitats is to promote native plant and pollinator biodiversity in areas that would otherwise wouldn’t. The standard lawn-to-wildflower plot for this project will be 6 x 6 feet. Why? Research shows that this is large enough to attract native pollinators, while still small enough for many people to manage.
To Provide a fun and easy-to-use mobile app and online tools to learn about and identify native bees.
You’ve heard about the decline in honey bee populations. There are also over 4,000 species of native bees in the U.S., many of which are also in peril. By learning about these native species, you will be better able to ensure their conservation. This is why we’re working to develop an interactive pollinator identification tool which will be available as a mobile app. We are also developing games to help people learn basic insect and bee identification skills.
To Create a platform for data collection about the effectiveness of lawn-to-wildflower plots.
Once you have created a lawn-to-wildflower plot, you will then be able to collect scientific data. To make this easy, our mobile app will have a built-in tool to collect data on plants and pollinators that will automatically be added to our nation-wide database. With data pouring in from across North America, we will be able to answer questions about when and where lawn-to-wildflower restorations successfully promote native biodiversity.
Lawn to Wildflowers was founded in 2018 by researchers and the University of Central Florida. We are funded by a Pollinator Health Fund grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. We are currently working toward the three goals listed above, and we encourage you to sign up for our newsletter to keep up with our progress and to learn about how you can be part of the movement promoting native plants and pollinators.
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Pollinators in peril
Insects that pollinate flowers, like bees and butterflies, are in trouble. Increased pesticide use and habitat loss have contributed to a widespread decline in native bees. And without them, many plants—including food crops—would die off.
The Lawn to Wildflowers project helps people create habitats for these helpful insects by turning turf grass lawns into native wildflower plots. We are developing a mobile app that will make it easy to create wildflower habitats and collect data on pollinator abundance and diversity. As a public scientist, your participation will not only make your local landscape more beautiful, but also give bees and butterflies a place to thrive.
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Why convert lawns to wildflowers?
In addition to offering little-to-no habitat for pollinators, lawns also have other environmental costs. Turf grass lawns cover over 40 million acres in the United States, which is about 2% of its total continental land area. This makes turf grass the most common irrigated crop, covering more area than the next eight types of irrigated crops combined. To keep all that grass growing, 50 to 75% of the domestic water supply is used, adding up to over 20 trillion gallons a year. Lawns are also major sources of pollution from fertilizer and pesticide run-off—all for a type of landscape that doesn’t produce food or provide other critical economic benefits.
Because lawns cover a such large area and are a common part of the landscapes we encounter every day, converting those areas to native wildflower plots is both possible for people to do and impactful for pollinators’ survival.