NatureHood is a unique collaborative of citizens, government, nonprofit and private sector members dedicated to restoring and improving green-space in Cleveland by creating a network of native plant naturescapes on the City's vacant and abandoned properties. Download a Naturehood general brochure here (print version). Download a Maintenance and Stewardship brochure here. Check our Facebook page for a photo diary of native plant restorations.
Since the start of the foreclosure crisis, the record number of vacant and abandoned properties has cost the City of Cleveland more than $35 million, including money spent on demolition, safety and maintenance, as well as in lost taxes. In all, vacant properties account for 6.6% of Cleveland's land area, with more than 5,000 abandoned and vacant lots and over 7,000 vacant residential buildings. Rather than allowing this land to continually drain the City's resources and contribute to urban blight, the NatureHood project provides and environmentally, economically and socially beneficial alternative. ($60 Million and Counting: The Cost of Vacant and Abandoned Properties in Eight Ohio Cities, Community Research Partners & ReBuild Ohio, 2008.)
In restoring native landscapes to some of the approximately 3,000 acres of vacant land in the City of Cleveland. NatureHood improves our city's ecological footprint, facilitates the City's economic recovery, improves quality of life and helps to make Cleveland a healthier, more sustainable city.
NatureHood's Environmental Benefits:
- Native plants provide habitat for a variety of animals, including butterflies, hummingbirds, songbirds and other small animals.
- The increased biodiversity above and below the soil will help support local gardeners and urban farmers in their fight against pests and plant diseases.
- The root systems of native plants help soil absorb water, which helps to reduce erosion and runoff and improves local water quality.
- Native plants help clean the air and water by absorbing and processing pollutants.
- Urban green-space helps counteract the urban heat-island effect.
- Native plants require little maintenance, reducing the amount of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer released into the environment; mowing native plants is also unnecessary, reducing gasoline use and engine emissions.
NatureHood's Economic Benefits:
- Cleaning and greening vacant lots can increase adjacent property values as much as 30%.
- Neighborhood blocks with higher concentrations of unmanaged vacant lots displayed lower home prices by about 18%.
- Planting a tree within 50 feet of a house can increase its value by about 9%. (The Determinants of Neighborhood Transformation in Philadelphia: Identification and Analysis- The New Kensington Pilot Study, Susan Wacher, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 2004.)
- Urban green-space provides opportunities for recreation, improves air and water quality and beautifies neighborhoods, all of which increase desirability.
- The City of Cleveland currently spends more than $3 million a year in labor to maintain vacant lots and abandoned properties; converting these lots to low-maintenance native landscapes could significantly reduce this figure.
NatureHood's Social Benefits:
- Working to create and maintain the native landscape creates a connection among members of the community as well as connecting that community to the natural environment.
- Native plantings provide and opportunity for children to play, explore and learn about the natural world.
- Naturehood gives residents an opportunity to be directly involved in the future of their neighborhoods and city; such a sense of ownership leads to safer, more healthy, beautiful and eco-friendly communities.
The urban restoration of native green-space will take the cooperation of city leaders and regulators, various Community Development Corporations, neighbors, project coordinators and volunteers.
Thank you to the following for your generous support and invaluable help:
Neighborhood Progress Inc., Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Re-Imagining Cleveland, The Cleveland Colectivo, The Garden Club of Cleveland, The Congregation of St. Joseph, ArcelorMittal, The Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation and the US Environmental Protection Agency-Environmental Justice.
City of Cleveland, Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Councilman Joe Cimperman, Councilman Brian J. Cummins, Councilman Matt Zone, Green Triangle, International Village Block Club, Kurtz Bros. Inc., Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, Neighborhood Leadership Institute, Mt. Pleasant Community Zone, Ohio State University Extension-Cuyahoga County, Tremont West Development Corporation, Stockyards Redevelopment Organization, Urban Design Center of Northeast Ohio and the Village People Block Club. Additional thanks go to Court Community Service and Building Bridges.
Seed balls: Seed balls are an easy way to restore native Ohio plants. Seed balls are seeds wrapped in a mixture of red clay, soil and water rolled into small balls that can be placed in your garden. Click here for seed ball directions.
Having trouble with deer in your garden? Check this list for plants to consider and this list for landscape plants ranked by deer resistance.
Our pilot Cleveland Naturehood lot is on Holmden Avenue in the Tremont neighborhood. Click here to download a Naturehood planting plan for the Tremont lot.
Neighborhood Progress Inc., the City of Cleveland, Kent State's Urban Design Center and other partners researched opportunities that can be created for the strategic re-use of vacant land. Click here to download the Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland report or the Re-Imagining Cleveland Vacant Land Re-Use Pattern Book.
ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves - Ohio Native Species for Landscapes and Restoration
Ohio State University Extension - Native Plant Bibliography
The Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio
Ohio Prairie Association
Northwest Ohio Nature - Habitat Restoration for Home Owners
Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society - Native Plant Card and Plant Sales
Ohio Prairie Nursery
Online software from USDA Forest Service for urban forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools - i.Tree
Online software to analyze structure, environmental effects and valuse of urban forests - ufore
People + Native Plants = NatureHood