In a backyard in Charlottesville’s historic Fry’s Spring neighborhood, distinctive geology and soils offer an opportunity for restoring the prairie ecology that was once prevalent across the Piedmont landscape. The property rests on a narrow formation of metagabbro, a rock type that is especially rich in calcium, magnesium, and other plant nutrients, and its potential flora is correspondingly rich and diverse. Features of the installation will include a 9,200-square-foot meadow with a wide array of grasses and wildflowers; a border integrating native herbaceous species with existing redbud trees (also native) that thrive in the rich soil; and a “pawpaw patch” with native shrubs that reproduce the understory of a basic mesic forest. Removal of invasive species, and managing their future encroachment, will be a particular challenge in this urban context.

Some Guiding Principles for the project:

  1. Designing an outdoor space that welcomes and facilitates outdoor exploration and maximizes biodiversity.
  2. Supporting native birds, butterflies, bees, and other fauna by providing them with a rigorously researched assemblage of local native plants.
  3. Conserving resources by minimizing high maintenance lawn grass.
  4. Demonstrating the native habitat potential of urban spaces.


This project began in August 2018. Stay tuned for updates!