Water’s Edge planting plan by Hands Dirty; Image and article courtesy of Plant NOVA Natives
This spring, Audubon at Home partnered with Plant NOVA Natives to invite homeowners’ and civic associations to apply for funds to beautify their neighborhood entrances using low maintenance native plants. The mini-grant program was funded by Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation’s Environmental Education and Stewardship Grants Program.
Interest in converting entranceways to native plants was high, and 35 groups completed the application process which included obtaining authorization from their Boards. Choosing between them was not easy, as they all had good plans. The decisions were made based on the suitability of the site, ready methods to communicate with residents, and the visibility of the new plantings to residents and the public. Six matching grants of $2,350 apiece were awarded to Auburn Village Condo (Arlington), Park Glen Heights HOA, Civic Association of Hollin Hills, and Water’s Edge at Fairlakes HOA (Fairfax County), Cascades Community Association (Loudoun County), and Dominion Valley Owner’s Association (Prince William County).
The Audubon at Home organizers are looking forward to working with the communities to design low-maintenance, wildlife-friendly, and beautiful landscaped entrance plantings. Completed installations will receive a high-quality sign that says, “Native plants support birds and other wildlife.”
The funds will be used to cover costs of a landscape designer to create a design, recommend native plants, purchase and install the plants, and remove any invasive plants present (such as English ivy, Japanese Barberry, Periwinkle, etc.) Matching funds or sweat equity are required from the neighborhood association to cover part of the costs. Community associations will be conducting educational outreach on the habitat value of native plants to their residents and must commit to maintaining the plantings for five years.
It was heartening to see the number of neighborhood associations responding to the call to beautify their neighborhood entranceways with native plants. Whether or not they received a mini grant, all communities are encouraged to invite an Audubon at Home Ambassador to visit and provide advice on suitable, low maintenance native plantings. Residents of Arlington/Alexandria, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, and Rappahannock counties may submit a consultation request at https://audubonva.org/aah.