Can Native Species provide “Real Estate” Curb Appeal?



“Curb appeal is a concept introduced by real estate agents,” Tallamy told the 30th annual Cullowhee Native Plant Conference in Cullowhee, N.C., in July. “In the real estate view, curb appeal seems to be a full view of the front of the house, which by default is an open lawn.

This is like saying real estate agents set the prices for homes (we don’t). Good agents interpret the market and advise accordingly.

Meh. I’m going to give the professor of entomology and wildlife ecology the benefit of the doubt and re-write his sentence for him. “Curb appeal is a concept introduced by consumers and interpreted by real estate agents. In the real estate consumers’ view, curb appeal usually seems to be a full view of the front of the house, which by default is an open lawn.”

That said, I agree with this –

“The problem with yards that are mostly grass is that they are “dead landscapes” that lack plants, specifically plants native to a homeowner’s region of the country, that support the web of plant, insect and animal life, Tallamy contends.”

Most front yards are rarely used for anything other than using a lawn mower.

I’m curious though – what native grasses and species would be best in the Charlottesville/Central Virginia area that would provide a good balance between buyers’ expectations and sellers’ needs to present great curb appeal?

Lonnie points out the Thomas Jefferson Soil & Conservation District’s “Turf to Natives” program

The District, in partnership with four other Districts, is initiating a “Conservation Assistance Program” to assist non-agricultural landowners to reduce their stormwater footprint and improve water quality. Currently four practices have funding available to landowners – conversion of turf grass to native plants, installation of community pet waste stations, installing rain gardens, and rain water harvesting using cisterns 250 gallons and greater. Applications are currently being accepted, please click here to download the form. All applications should be accompanied by a preliminary plan of the practice describing the site, objectives of the practice, square footage, and location.


The incentive payment rate for this practice has two levels. For converting turf grass to a meadow like setting, with only grasses and forbs, the rate is $75 per 1000 square feet. For converting turf grass areas to a landscaped bed  setting with trees, shrubs, and ground cover/mulch, the rate is $750 per 1000 square feet.

* Note: the above photo is from Texas.

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  1. Lonnie Murray August 5, 2013 at 06:42

    First of all, we actually have a list of recommended species for Albemarle County that can be found here:

    You can even search by color, height, and other qualities. I personally recommend the fruit bearing species like American Plum, Juneberry, Paw Paw, etc. since they provide dual function of both attractiveness and delicious food! Also, they are all available a short drive from Crozet at Edible Landscaping on 151.

    It’s also worth noting that the local Thomas Jefferson soil and Water Conservation District has $750 per 1000 square feet to help land owners convert turf to native plants. You can find out more about that program here:

    You can also contact me, one of your District Directors, if you’d like any informal free advice on native plants, or like our Facebook page the “Piedmont Virginia Native Plant Initiative”

    1. Jim Duncan August 6, 2013 at 05:58

      Thanks, Lonnie. I’m going to see what I can sort out for my house …

  2. Amy Haden August 6, 2013 at 06:06

    I have to admit that I’m all about going native when it comes to landscaping — my 4 acre rural property is registered as backyard wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation & the VA Dept of Game. We have some lawn, but it still might not appeal to some folks who really want the golf course look. Having said that, though, I think that every yard can mix it up a bit. For example, blueberry bushes are fantastic additions to foundation plantings.


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