Light the Ground, Not the Sky

We could not do without artificial lighting. But outdoor lights that direct light downward, and not toward the sky, are better for wildlife, better for safety, better for our own health, and save energy. Dark-sky lighting may even allow us to see more of the stars of our universe. Read more about dark-sky lighting in an article by Jil Swearingen.

Design for an Ecologically-Friendly Yard

In her book "Noah's Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Back Yards," Sara Stein sketches out a yard supporting meadow, water, wetland, and woodland species.

Share a Woodland

Many Cheverly back yards form contiguous groupings or "green ribbons" of wooded natural areas. The Cheverly Green Infrastructure Plan suggests joining with your neighbors to protect those spaces. Here's how sharing a woodland might look, also from "Noah's Garden."

Gardening for Wildlife

It’s a great time to take stock of your yard and plan for the future. Where are you finding birds? Do you have a planting that just isn't right? A newly cleared corner of your property you are dreaming about planting for wildlife next year? The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and YardMap invite you to send in photos of the areas of your yard you'd like to improve. If your photo is selected, landscaping experts and the online community will offer advice. Head over to the YardMap advice page to find out how to submit your photo or to learn more about landscaping for wildlife.

What Should I Plant?

Doug Tallamy's list of 20 most valuable woody and perennial genera in terms of supporting biodiversity in the mid-Atlantic region.

Do we have examples of these species in our Cheverly natural areas? Check our plant inventory.

How does your landscape measure up?

The University of Maryland Extension gives us a way to measure how our yards affect our environment. Measure your yard with the Bay-Wise Maryland Yardstick and see whether your good landscape practices measure up to 36 inches of credit.
From the publications page click on BW1, "Bay-Wise Maryland Yardstick -- for Landscapes."

Provide for Wildlife: Preventing Bird Death by Window

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “One of the greatest hazards to birds is plate glass, with windows in homes and offices killing as many as one billion birds each year. Glass is invisible to birds, and if it reflects the images of trees, bushes, the sky or other natural habitat, a bird may fly directly into it.”

Often a collision will temporarily stun a bird that flies off, seemingly recovered, in a few moments. But many times these birds die later, from internal bleeding or hematomas, especially on the brain. Dr. Daniel Klem of Muhlenberg College has researched this issue since the 1970s. He writes, “Intensive studies at single homes reveal one out of every two strikes results in a fatality.” Klem adds, “Glass is an indiscriminate killer that takes the fit as well as the unfit of a species population.”

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds site tells more.

Here is a simple system you can use to keep birds from hitting the windows using nylon cording.

The Role of Urban Forests in Biodiversity Restoration

Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, speaks at a workshop held on February 25-26, 2013 and organized by the The National Academy of Sciences / National Research Council.

Can your tree be saved?

Is it diseased? Is it a danger to your house or to others?

You may want to ask a consulting arborist first rather than a specialist in tree removal.

According to the American Society of Consulting arborists in Rockville, Maryland (, consulting arborists “are dedicated to the objective assessment of trees, the enhancement of the community and the protection of the environment.”

Homeowners may seek a consulting arborist for:       

  • Knowledge of tree care, preservation and maintenance            
  • Expertise about tree and plant selection and planting            
  • Assessment and identification of tree risks and hazards            
  • Advice on tree preservation            
  • Appraisal of trees            
  • Investigation into tree disputes and negligence            
  • Inspection of plant material and tree issues

See the ASCA web site for more information on the scope of consulting arborists’ work.
Click on “find a consulting arborist” to find one in our area.

At “ASCA the expert” you can submit your question online."

Say Boo! to Bamboo

Many types of bamboo from Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America have become invasive in North America. Planted as landscape screening, these bamboos spread by underground roots. They produce a thicket which does not allow other plants to grow and will quickly invade your neighbors’ yards. It is difficult and time-consuming to eradicate it.

Naturally, the best solution is not to plant exotic bamboos at all. And the finest alternative is, not surprisingly, a native bamboo. Generally called canebrake bamboo (Arundinaria gigantea), or southern cane, this species used to cover enormous stretches of riparian “bottom land.”

Montgomery County provides other alternatives to bamboo and ways to eradicate exotic bamboo.

Can This Tree Be Saved (Again)?

What happens to that tree in your yard that falls or has to be cut down? What happens to the trees the town or Pepco fells?

Is firewood or wood chips their only or best use?

Katherine Salant’s article in the Washington Post introduces the idea of using “urban timber” in buildings or cabinetry.

Urban timber “refers to trees that are removed from private property in urban and suburban areas or municipally owned parks or right of ways because they are diseased or standing in the way of construction.”

The Urban Forest Products Alliance encourages putting all wood from urban trees to good use. “Urban trees have their highest value while living. When they come down, urban trees should be put to their highest and best uses to maximize their economic, environmental, and societal benefits for people in urban areas and beyond.”

According to Salant, “Urban timber is ... suited to small-scale, community-based businesses that can process the wood taken down by local tree services.” So the recycling of this wood into useful products can support local “green” businesses. A web search under “urban timber” reveals a number of custom woodworkers using urban timber.

Cincinnati’s Urban Timber Program uses trees threatened by Emerald Ash Borer to provide wood for use in school construction. The Illinois Emerald Ash Borer Wood Utilization Team similarly aims to reclaim lumber from tree removal.

Get Help with Tree Planting:Three ways to get free or reduced-price trees

The State of Maryland offers a coupon worth $25 off the purchase of one tree, and provides lists of good trees to plant.

The Town of Cheverly will plant a tree in your yard. Call Trudy at the Public Works Department, 301-773-2666.

Pepco is offering free energy-saving trees.

Pepco, in cooperation with the Arbor Day Foundation, is providing a limited number of “power-line friendly” free trees through the Energy Saving Trees program to help you save energy and reduce your energy bills.

Scientists agree that properly planted trees could help to reduce your energy use through summer shading and slowing cold winter winds. As your trees grow, they can lower your energy bills by up to 15 to 30 percent.

Beginning Sept. 26 through Nov. 12, about 1,000 trees for each Pepco service territory (the District, and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties) will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to Pepco customers who agree to plant them in safe, energy-saving locations.

To reserve your free tree:

  • Go online and map out your house. Visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s easy-to-use, interactive online mapping tool. Just type in your address and the online tool will pull up a map of your house.
  • Select the right tree for the right planting location. The online application will then help you determine the right trees to plant and the right places to plant them to save energy.
  • Reserve your tree. After you select your tree and its safe, energy-saving location, simply press the reserve button.
  • Tree is delivered directly to your home for planting. Two- to four-foot trees will be mailed from the Arbor Day Foundation nursery, directly to your home at the right time for planting (from Nov. 1-26) with easy-to-follow instructions on how and where to plant them.

Customers are reminded to call 8-1-1 BEFORE digging to avoid hitting underground utilities.

For more information, call 1-855-234-3801 between the business hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Native Plant Center

The Native Plant Center, a new website produced by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, makes selection of native plants for your yard or garden truly easy! With a database of over 400 native plants, the site has advanced search capability to help you choose native plants that match your location,sun exposure and soil conditions.

Good Neighbor Handbook

The Potomac Conservancy's Good Neighbor Handbook covers in succinct form
  • invasive plants
  • landscaping with native plants
  • wildlife habitat
  • healthy lawns for a healthy bay
  • capturing and using stormwater
  • minimizing bright outdoor lighting
  • streamside buffers
  • conservation agreements

Ideas for Your Environmentally Friendly Yard

Joel Lerner’s “Green Scene” in the Washington Post includes tips for creating an environmentally friendly landscape.

•    Plant native plants.
•    Encourage biodiversity.
•    Restore soil using homemade compost.
•    Collect rainwater.
•    Keep stormwater on your land.
•    Control the use of pesticides.
•    Recycle.
•    Plant more edible plants.
•    Use less energy, cut noise pollution.

Sustaining Wildlife with Native Plants

A series of five interviews with Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, from the Timber Press podcast page.

Episode #5:

Doug talks about the crisis facing wildlife populations, how it affects us, and why insects are our friends. (8:02)

Episode #6:

Doug talks about which native plants give the most bang for the buck, finding a balance between native and non-native plants, and getting the biodiversity message out. (11:11)

Episode #7:

Doug talks about what constitutes a "native" plant, the spread of invasive species, herbicides, and organic gardening. (9:24)

Episode #8:

Doug talks about whether you can make a difference in the world by what you plant, and getting more plants into your yard. (9:15)

Episode #9:

Doug talks about what best to replace your lawn with, the most destructive landscaping practice, and the difference between native and invasive insects. (11:29)

How Green is Our Cheverly

The 2010 Cheverly Green Home and Garden Tour showcased projects by the Town of Cheverly and by our neighbors.
  • Solar and other alternative energy
  • Stormwater retention
  • Permeable paving
  • Replacement of lawn with native plantings
  • municipal-scale rainwater collection
  • ...and more

Keep rainwater on-site

Retain rainwater where it does the most good for your trees and gardens. Rainwater rushing down streets and into storm drains harms our streams and natural areas. Our storm drains empty directly into our streams. The velocity of the water causes erosion. The streets heat the water, making it too hot for fish and other stream life. The rainwater washes pollutants and trash into our streams.

How to build a rain garden, and other suggestions for Low Impact Development.

Preserve Your Backyard Forest

By enhancing or creating natural areas and woodland on your lot, you can enjoy recreation, aesthetics, wi
ldlife and water quality.  If your lot connects to other lots, there’s ample opportunity to make an even bigger impact by getting neighbors involved!

4 Minutes to a Better Backyard is a video from The University of Maryland Extension Forest Stewardship Education program.

The Woods in Your Backyard is a manual from the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Engineering Service.

Conservation and Commerce

Our industries and institutions can contribute greatly to Cheverly's Green Infrastructure. They can reduce the area of impervious surface by adding rain gardens and replacing impervious paving with permeable materials. They can consider green roofs to reduce stormwater runoff. They can look into using an expanse of flat roof to collect the sun's energy.

Ideas especially for our industries and institutions.