Largely, the idea started in Wisconsin. It is important to remember, however, that natural yards are not a new idea. Lawns represent only a brief period in the history of land care practices.
The idea of natural yards is supported by Aldo Leopold’s famous essay The Land Ethic. In this essay, Leopold says that land – including soil, water, plants, and animals – is part of our community and should be treated with respect. People are responsible for protecting the health of land, but are members of the community alongside it, not its masters. Leopold developed the ideas in this essay while living near Baraboo, Wisconsin.
Lorrie Otto noticed that a lot of birds were dying in her neighborhood outside Milwaukee in the 1960’s. The main cause was DDT, and she worked to stop the spraying of this toxic pesticide. At the same time, she made her yard more welcoming to birds by restoring it to a prairie-like landscape. Her efforts inspired the formation of the Wild Ones, a national non-profit organization promoting natural yards.
Natural yards have become more common in Wisconsin over the last several decades. They will likely continue to increase in popularity here and across the United States.