Some de­sign sug­ges­tions:

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— Cre­ate bor­ders us­ing hedges, mowed edges, low fences or walk­ways. They act as buf­fers, keep plants from ob­struct­ing sight lines and frame an oth­er­wise nat­u­ral land­scape, Brit­ting­ham said.

— Start small. Save money by con­vert­ing from turf to meadow in man­age­able yet vis­i­ble pieces. First, elim­i­nate any trou­ble spots on the lawn, and then ex­pand grad­u­ally, mim­ick­ing na­ture’s pro­cesses of grad­ual suc­ces­sion.

— Find the right plants for the right sites. Don’t plant sun-lov­ing prairie flow­ers un­der shade trees, or plants that like their feet dry in low spots that col­lect run-off.

— Go na­tive. Non-na­tive species gen­er­ally have less wildlife value, Brit­ting­ham said, and are of­ten in­va­sive, elim­i­nat­ing many na­tive species. Check the nox­ious weed con­trol lists is­sued for your area and en­sure that none are in­cluded among the seeds you sow or in the con­tain­ers you plant.

— Help spread the word. Draw a map of your nat­u­ral land­scape and make it avail­able through brochures placed around your yard. “You might even in­clude a list­ing of the plants you used and where you got them,” Brit­ting­ham said.

— Hu­man­ize the project. Add yard art or some­thing per­sonal and whim­si­cal, Steiner said. “For ac­cent and em­bel­lish­ment, rusted iron sculp­tural pieces blend nicely with the ca­sual look of a prairie land­scape. Sun­di­als are nice ad­di­tions to gar­dens fea­tur­ing th­ese sun-lov­ing plants. Bird­baths made of ce­ramic or stone are prac­ti­cal as well as beau­ti­ful.”

By il­lus­trat­ing that your land­scape is cared for and de­signed in­ten­tion­ally, you’ll show that you haven’t just al­lowed “weeds” to take over, Steiner said.

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