What IS a wild yard?
A Wild Yard is a yard, patio or windowsill that provides vital habitat for the creatures we’ve displaced here in urban and suburban America, by providing food, shelter and fresh water.
A Wild Yard creates habitat by employing at least 50% native plants. This helps to both preserve our natural heritage AND preserve nature’s tendency toward co- evolution, the process by which insects learned, over vast periods of time, to host upon specific plants. Insects, in turn, provide both vital protein for a vast number of larger animals, as well help maintain health soil for plants to grow.
A Wild Yard always has a supply of shallow, fresh, running water for the birds, bees and other critters that visit our native habitat.
A Wild Yard offers perch for nesting and feeing birds, as well as cover for the thousands of lizards, snakes, insects and other critters your habitat will attract. By planting “low, medium and high”, we make sure that nature has a safe place to dwell, dine and rest.
A Wild Yard builds rich healthy soil, leaves its leaves alone and avoids pesticides, fertilizers and other harmful chemicals.
The World Wildlife Fund recently announced that the natural world is losing 10,000 species a year, due largely to habitat loss. At the same time, we here in the United States have displaced over 40 million acres of native-habitat with costly, lifeless lawns. Astonishingly, lawns are the biggest crop in the US, but we don’t eat them, and much of that acreage goes to waste when it could be inviting back in the tens of thousands of essential and threatened species we have pushed out. The Wild Yards Project combines a powerful team of award winning filmmakers with esteemed botanists, biologists and native plant landscapers to generate media and local projects aimed at inspiring and educating people to transform their lawns back into vibrant native plant and animal habitat. One yard can save a species, but many yards can transform the world.
In the winter of 2014, my wife was 9 months pregnant, we had just moved into our new house in Northeast LA, and the yard was a bleak wasteland of ruined earth, rusted pipes, and dead trees. As kids who had grown up playing in the woods of New England, we were daunted but excited to see what “wildness” we could bring to our little lot in the middle of an urban area. The night we planted our first plants, my daughter was born. Three and a half years later, we now have two kids and a vibrant yard, dense with native plants and trees, watered by grey-water, the air alive with migratory and native birds, butterflies and bees, all less than one block from a 6-lane road, multiple highways and a busy business district.
The lesson, of course, is simple: If you invite the wild things back into your world, they will come. As two people with a combined total of over 35 years in film and television (I have produced and run series for Discovery Channel, History Channel, AMC, National Geographic, BBC, my wife, Sian Heder, is a writer/director of such projects as “Orange is the New Black”, “Tallulah” and “GLOW”), we began documenting the transformation and posting our progress on Facebook. People began asking about our project, just a few at first, but then a deluge of questions, “How? Who? Where?”, and we realized that people were starved for a simple, positive way to help the planet. Quickly we saw the staggering potential for the more than 40 million acres of lawns guzzling water and toxic fertilizers here in the U.S.
And so, the WILD YARDS PROJECT began. By combining world-class storytellers with some of the most esteemed voices in the native plant movement, our goal is to make films, publish articles and generate local projects that will inspire a movement across the country to transform every yard into vital native habitat. A new wilderness is ours to create, and, as entomologist Doug Tallamy wrote, now is the time to start “Bringing Nature Home”.
STORYTELLER / NATIVE PLANT EVANGELIST
CA NATIVE PLANTS EXPERT / EDUCATOR / BLOGGER DIRECTOR OF OUTREACH - THEODORE PAYNE FOUNDATION
Chloe Renee Ziegler
MEDITERRANEAN AND NATIVE LANDSCAPE DESIGNER
Filmmaker / Futurist
California Native Plant Expert
Cultural Educator / Cahuilla / Apache
Fund Raising Goals
By bringing world-class storytellers together with some of the most accomplished plantsman in Southern California, we can are committed to bringing about a new era of wildness and stewardship.
And we need your help. We’re asking for donations to help us meet our annual budget of $65,000. This money will go toward media development aimed at powerfully changing the landscaping paradigm from lawns to habitat, nationwide, as well as educating, collaborating with, and amplifying local efforts via hands on programs. Help us tell this story and provide the tools to get it done.
We've partnered with Fractured Atlas to assist our efforts in raising funds to help spread the word about the Wild Yards Project. To see our Fund Raising page on Fractured Atlas, and help us out, please click here.