A Micro-level framework for Ecological Restoration Incentives in South Bend Landscaping

Nicole Degla

The purpose of this research project is to identify the most effective strategy to increase stewardship and native plant use on private landscapes in South Bend. I hope to achieve this through a comprehensive assessment of the services provided by plant nurseries and landscaping companies with regards to native plants.

Degla Native PlantPhoto by Marcia E. Moore

My initial research revealed that very few residential landscapes implement native plants on their properties. Studies have shown that today, non-native plant species make up as much as 88 percent of flora on residential landscapes (Cook et al., 2011). I have found that there are significant ecological benefits to increasing native flora in urban areas, specifically those under the threat of extreme floods, as seen in the city of South Bend.

There is clearly a gap between what ecological practices science tells us are beneficial, and how most people approach their lawn care. It seems as though businesses in the landscape industry are at the nexus of this issue, and a closer look at how they approach native plant use is warranted. Thus, the focus of my research will be centered on interviewing and assessing the 12 plant nurseries and 18 landscaping companies located in South Bend to investigate what role these businesses play in this relationship, and how changes could be made as a way to shift to more ecologically conscious restoration solutions.