SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A yard in a west-central neighborhood in Springfield is getting attention on social media.
At first glance, it looks like an overgrown yard, which is a violation of the city ordinance, but it’s actually a city program to manage stormwater runoff.
“This is all native here, this is a milkweed species, and monarchs will lay eggs on the back of these leaves,” said Caleb Sanders, the homeowner.
It could look like an eyesore to some, but it is a habitat for Missouri’s native plants and insects.
“People think I’m trying to get out of mowing, but if you talk to my neighbors, they’ll tell you that I’m out here all the time,” said Sanders. “And I’m definitely spending more time weeding than it would take me to mow it. That’s for sure.”
Sanders says he got involved with Springfield’s Yard Ethics Program because of flooding in his basement.
“I put in a sump pump when I moved into this house, and it’s never on,” said Sanders.
It has to do with the roots, a form of natural stormwater management, replacing sod or fertilizer with native grass and wildflowers.
“Less stormwater runoff means less pollution going into our streams, ” said Carrie Lamb who is with the Yard Ethics Program.
“I don’t know why we think that our yards have to be turf, and they have to be mowed short,” said Sanders. “It may not be showy right now, but come summertime, this whole yard will be covered in color. I made sure everyone knew what the intention was. I knocked on some doors and said, ‘hey, I’m doing this,’ I called the neighborhood association, but the biggest thing is the signage.”
Lamb leads the city’s Yard Ethics Program and says she is glad a few neighbors have taken to the idea.
“Just make sure you have a plan, that it’s well maintained, and that it looks very intentional,” said Lamb.
“That’s been really fun to come out here on the weekends and watch the monarchs and watch the birds, and this interaction that we think only happens out there in the woods or the fields somewhere other than the city, happen right here in a front yard,” said Sanders.