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Good Neighbors

by Phyllis Griffard and Kelly Guilbeau Green

We've all heard it. Native plants are weedy and habitat gardens are wild and messy looking. Well that's a bold generalization that for many presents a deal-breaking hurdle to habitat gardening. This assumption can prevent gardeners from adding natives if they think they won't like how it looks or needs to be maintained. The assumption may also cause them to worry what their neighbors will think. Imagine.This orientation is not a new phenomenon. Decades ago the EPA was already producing guidelines for "weed laws" that clarify what exactly is needed to balance needs of ecological function with property values. Nor are we winning over enough traditional gardeners with wild-looking aesthetic sense and gardening habits. Our neighbors need to know that habitat gardens can look traditional and still be home to native plants and the wildlife that depends on them. But habitat gardens of this style may go unnoticed because they conform to the aesthetic of non-native gardens, leaving the uninformed to their erroneous assumption that all habitat gardens look unkempt. This is another advantage to providing signage for your habitat garden, regardless of your gardening style.So what can we do to communicate our landscaping and management choices effectively, besides just putting up signs? Some of us in the Louisiana Native Plant Society (Kelly Guilbeau Green, Sarah Spell, Kristy Wallisch and myself) have collaborated to produce two documents to help facilitate the task of gaining buy-in from neighbors and others in your community who will interact with your native gardens. The first is a Position Statement meant as a tool for landowners to dispel common misconceptions about native gardens, particularly in comparison with traditional landscaping practices. The Communication Toolkit offers practical steps to maintaining both your native garden and your relationship with neighbors. We hope you can use these documents to further educate yourself about the benefits of your native garden, enhance your talking points in defense of your choices, and relay effectively the importance of going native when confronted with doubters. (Special thanks to Kelly for her amazing graphic design skills! Let us know what you think by emailing


Collaboration Update: May 2021

  • ANPP has become an affiliate member of Wild Onesa national nonprofit organization whose mission may sound familiar: "Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities." They provide free native garden designs! Consider joining to support their mission.

  • Moncus Park Plant Survey: Teams led by ANPP leaders Dona Weifenbach, Lawrence Rozas, with the able help of so many, are conducting a plant survey in the Ravine area in the undeveloped part of Moncus Park. The survey will inform the next steps the park staff will take, including removal of invasive ardisia, privet, honeysuckle and tallow and replacing them with diverse natives that will restore ecological function. If you'd like to help with the survey, sign up for a shift here.

  • Thank you to Bayou Vermilion Preservation Association and the Unitarian Universalist fellowship for inviting us to provide native plants for Beaver Park. 

  • Last year Lafayette Garden Club partnered with Evangeline Elementary School to start a native plant garden. The school chose to use planters so that they could be moved around campus. This year Lafayette Garden Club donated new native plants purchased from ANPP. Thank you to Sarah Schoeffler, Babette Werner and the LGC for their tireless work to beautify Lafayette's landscape.

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