July 30, 2021
Green up your property, no matter how small. Every little bit helps.

By Mary Reid Barrow

A family at the North End has a small yard around their  row home and they have turned most of  it over to peaches , blueberries, figs, vegetables and flowers.

A townhome owner on Great Neck Creek has just gone the extra mile to protect her little piece of waterfront property with a living shoreline complete with oyster castles.

And a  restaurant  owner on Atlantic Avenue has built and planted a  green wall on his rooftop lounge  to bring a little green into the concrete all around.

These environmentally responsible property owners  are aware that every little bit helps, as cliched as the words are.  Wherever you live or work, no matter the size of your land, you can improve your ground cover, plant more greenery, stop erosion and  so much more.  It takes everyone doing his or her small part to slow down flooding, lower emissions and keep the planet cool.

Over the years, grass is becoming only a  path around Tiffany and Derrick Russell’s Pearl Home at the North End.  Peach trees, figs and blueberries have  overtaken  what was once lawn on one side of the yard. A vegetable garden, where even watermelons grow, takes up most of the front yard.   A long zinnia bed, Tiffany’s Mother Day present this year,  now occupies  the yard’s other side where grass also once grew.   Duncan, Tiffany, Garrett and Derrick Russell stand where the zinna bed on the side of the house meets the vegetable bed in front:

Growing fruits and vegetables and reducing lawn space are two of the checkoffs on  the Pearl Home application, said Terri Gorman, LRNow’s Pearl Home Coordinator.  The Russells also are committed to other actions, such as recycling, drinking from reusable water bottles, and turning off lights that are not needed, Terri said.  The

The townhome owner on Great Neck Creek was already a Pearl Home when she  had a rain barrel installed through LRNow’s Pearl Yard Program to help with roof run-off  that was eroding the slope along the creek, said Barbara Duke.  Barbara coordinates LRNow’s Pearl Yard program.

Barbara then referred  her to Vince Bowhers, who coordinates LRNow’s Shoreline Restoration Program, to help stabilize her waterfront property.  Now she has a 34-foot long living shoreline built with oyster castles, technically called an “oyster castle sill”  and Spartina grasses planted upland.  It is the smallest living shoreline that he has worked with, Vince said:

“To me, this home represents more than a living shoreline,” Barbara said. “It is a great example of how, even with a tiny backyard, you can use several sustainable practices to improve the environment.”

Vince, who also  is LRNow’s Pearl Business Coordinator, worked  with Mike Mauch, owner of the renovated Harvest restaurant and its new Rooftop Lounge on Atlantic Avenue.  Mike  became a Pearl Business in March and Vince helped him  get a Pearl Business  landscape grant to build and plant a green wall on the lounge.  In addition a rain barrel, on far left in the photo,  was installed on the roof to catch water for the colorful flowers growing on the wall:

Harvest also locally sources food for many of its menu items, which, along with the green wall and the rain barrel are helping the environment, Vince said.

“These stories show that others can do green projects anywhere if they try,” Vince said.  “A lot of good work. is being done in small pieces”

 Do you have a favorite tree or plant with a story to tell?  What relationships have you observed  between plants and critters?  Who eats whom?  Who has babies where?   Send an email to




PEARL HOMES are places where people care about our environment and want to do what they can to help protect our resources.

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Lynnhaven River NOW recognizes schools providing outstanding environmental education as a Pearl School.

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PEARL BUSINESSES are essential to truly move towards a more sustainable Virginia Beach and cleaner waters.

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We all want to do our part to restore the health of all of our sacred waterways and protect them for future generations to enjoy.

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SUSTAINABLE YARDS PROGRAM: Let us help you “green” your Lynnhaven watershed home. This unique program provides specific stormwater management practices to your yard at a significantly reduced cost to you.

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