Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, Tennessee Austin Bay State University’s (APSU) Center of Excellence in Field Biology has partnered with the Clarksville Sustainability Council to introduce a new program to help residents add more native plants and pollinators to their local yards.

The programme, called Healthy Yards, has simple goals: urge participating residents to grow and maintain at least three native plants and avoid the use of pesticides or herbicides. City residents who register will receive a yard sign to view. Look for them to start popping up all over the city.




Anyone interested in the program can visit the Healthy Yards webpage for tips and to register their yards. The page also provides resources for finding and preserving native plants.

“We all depend on insect pollination to produce healthy fruits and vegetables and for healthy ecosystems,” noted the Clarksville October 6 City Declaration signed by Clarksville Mayor Joe Bates. “A patio with less lawn and more native plants can reduce the need to use chemicals, and provide a healthy environment for children and pets.”

The ad acknowledges the efforts of Michelle Rogers, an instructor in the Center of Excellence for Field Biology and the Department of Biology, and Olivia Heron, a former sustainability coordinator at Austin B. It also names JoAnn McIntosh, president of the Clarksville-Montgomery County chapter of the Sierra Club, and Carlye Sommers, Clarksville Gas & Water grants analyst.

The Clarksville Sustainability Council, with support from Ward 9 City Council member Karen Reynolds, launched the program in August. Since then, the board members have worked hard to enroll people in the program. Rogers said Montgomery County also recently agreed to adopt the program.

Encouraging people to “get started”

One of the signs of a healthy yard.  (abso)
One of the signs of a healthy yard. (abso)

“We just want to encourage people to get started,” Rogers said. “If you do anything in your yards or have plants grown, these should be easier. They should keep themselves better.

“All of the plants we sell and give away are perennials, and because they are native, they are grown as well,” she added.



Plants native to Tennessee are adapted to our soils and climate. They will thrive here and will require little watering once established.

Yards with native plants (and fewer chemicals) are not only good for pollinators, but they also allow native insects to thrive, and this helps native birds and other animals.

According to the program’s website, “We all depend on insect pollination to produce healthy fruits and vegetables and to achieve healthy ecosystems.” “A patio with less lawn and more native plants can reduce the need to use chemicals, and provide a healthy environment for children and pets.”

original plant workshop

The Austin Peay Office of Community Engagement and Sustainability will present a local plant-based workshop to area residents on Saturday, April 29 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the APSU Center for Outdoor Education.

The workshop will be family friendly, as free native plants will join in.

Also in late April, Austin Peay will host an online sale of native plants with in-person pickup. The Healthy Yards web page will add a link to the sale next spring, and Wes Powell, assistant director of Landscaping and Lands for Austin Peay, will notify participants of the sale.


What can you do now?

Rogers shared some quick tips on keeping a sustainable yard this fall.

She said that many butterflies winter in chrysalises in the fall leaves, and the queen bee burrows into the surface of the soil below the leaf litter to keep it warm. Leave the papers!

It also recommended planting dormant trees after the first severe frost of the season. The best trees for pollinators are native oaks, red buds, and southern magnolias. Oaks provide home to more than 500 species of pollinators.

Fall is the time when native plants naturally drop seeds. You can start the original flowers from seed now or wait until spring to start with purchased plants.

Leave a Reply