Growing Native in Charlottesville
This past January, the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District along with four Virginia districts launched the Conservation Assistance Program. There are multiple ways for the Charlottesville community to get involved, including the conservation of native plants by converting turf grass areas to native planted areas. While native plants and wildflowers are aesthetically appealing, this collective practice can also benefit the local water quality of the Charlottesville area.
Because native plants are easily adapted to the local environment, they require the least amount of additional fertilization, whereas turf grass required much maintenance. According to the TJSWCD, “conversion of turf grass to native plants will generally be beneficial to the protection of water quality from nonpoint source runoff pollution.”
Incentives are being offered to those who convert their turf grass to native plants. For converting to a meadow-like environment, with grass and forbs, one can be paid $75 for ever 1000 square feet. If trees, shrubs and ground cover are also added, one can be paid $750 for 1000 square feet.
Native plants are especially suited for the area, environment and climate. Their deep roots filter runoff and they do not need the mowing or fertilization of turf lawns, which contribute to water pollution.
While the program’s main goal is its impact on the environment, the addition of native plants benefits the community in a multitude of ways. Charlottesville’s Clark Elementary School planted a Wildlife Garden using a Conservation Assistance Grant.
Albemarle County residences are encouraged to swap out their turf lawns for a bed of native growing grass and wildflower garden. Along with the beauty, Charlottesville residents get the added bonus of less time spent mowing their lawns and fertilizing their gardens. From Hyacinth to Buttercups, Goldenrods to Asters – native plants are beautiful and beneficial, providing a idyllic backdrop and clean water supply.