"Bayscaping" at Science Museum

By Andrew Freiden - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Saving time and money while helping the earth. The Science Museum of Virginia ripped up part of the front lawn. That move will have an environmental impact all the way to the Chesapeake Bay.

In order to be truly cutting edge, the Science Museum of Virginia cut out the lawn, and is bayscaping instead, over 1000 plants put into the area. They are planting native plants like black-eyed susans, dogwoods, phlox, and coneflowers.

"Eliminates the need for fertilizer and also pesticides which can drain into the Chesapeake Bay and harm the fishes there," said Science Museum Education Director Dr. Eugene Maurakis.

Bayscaping is a technique that more and more people are embracing. Education Director Eugene Maurakis says the goal is to convince people to change their old habits and to retire their lawnmowers.

"We're using bayscapes as a demonstration for people around the community to understand that they can use native plants. They don't have to mow their lawns if they use native plants," said Maurakis.

This will be an area that only needs to be weeded occasionally.

Lawns were never part of central Virginia's natural landscape. Warm season grasses you'll find at the beach can't take the winter here, and cool season grasses that thrive up north can't handle our hot summers and frequent dry spells. But native plants can take the heat.

"The plants are drought resistant so when we get a shortage of rain in the fall, these plants will still thrive," Maurakis said.

They also send down deep roots that over time will loosen and improve the soil in your yard, in addition to lessening the amount of runoff from your property that heads into creeks and streams.

"With reduce pesticides and fertilizers here in the Chesapeake bay crabs, fishes can survive, and in turn when we go catch them, we don't eat pesticide laden fishes," said Maurakis.

And it also helps wildlife in your backyard providing food and shelter to native creatures.

"My favorite plant is the butterfly bushes. They attract a ton of different kinds of butterflies," Maurakis said.

And if your aren't mowing as often, there is more time to enjoy your own natural Virginia landscape.

"This not is complicated. It can be done at very small scales and expanded upon if you like what you've done with it," said Chris French of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

The Science Museum "bayscapes garden" covers one-seventh of an acre. It's out front so it's easy to see. You can pick up a garden guide at the museum's guest services desk.

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