Community Savings

The Ridgefield Homeowners Association in Fishers used to spend an inordinate amount of money to mow and maintain the turf grass common areas around their subdivision. Serving on the HOA’s board, this Ridgefield homeowner found a way to save the homeowners $8,000 per year: convert a portion of the sterile, monoculture lawn into a vibrant native prairie.

In the Spring of 2006, half of the HOA’s 13 acres of common area was converted to a NATURE PARK. The project consisted of planting approximately four and a half acres of native warm season grasses and wildflowers in the meadow and around the retention pond. In addition, over 300 native trees and shrubs were planted. The native plants do not require mowing, fertilizing or watering required by the prior turf grass common area. As a result of the conversion to native plants, the homeowners no longer spend $9,000 a year to maintain the area. Instead, they now spend under $1,000 per year.

Find detailed cost savings and answers to common questions in this flyer: Think Habitat, Not Grass 

The HOA’s cost savings came from an idea born of economic necessity. However, the native plantings have provided more than just financial benefits. Like the typical suburban subdivision, the prior mowed turf grass common area provided no ecological benefits and limited wildlife habitat. Converting the area to native plants has helped improve the water quality in the neighborhood retention pond as the deep rooted native plants prevent polluted storm water from draining into the pond. In addition, the plantings around the retention pond have eliminated the nuisance goose issue. Finally, the common area has become a wildlife haven which attracts a large number of birds, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

The community is taking the dedication to native plants one step further. During 2013, the neighborhood entryways were transformed from a non-native planting of yews, roses, and introduced perennials to native and native cultivar plants including viburnums, dogwood, serviceberry, coneflower, blazing star and more.

Community residents and visitors find the trails winding through the Ridgefield Nature Park to be good for viewing native plantings and good for bird watching, butterfly and wildlife observation as well as for dog walking and general restorative strolls.

The Nature Park connects with the Geist Church property (see “Connecting Community”) and is part of the developing biological bridge (for birds, butterflies, insects and many wildlife species) throughout the Fishers community.

Additional information on the project and community cost savings is available at the “Evolving Habitat” site, the Ridgefield subdivision residence of the aware resident gardener who did the economic cost analysis for conversion of high maintenance grass lawns to low cost/low maintenance native plantings. The gardener enjoys sharing his knowledge with others and has prepared sheets with information about the plants at the community entrance, around the pond and in the NATURE PARK.

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