4th Annual Native Plant Symposium 2022 - Stop Mowing, Start Growing!

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Stop Mowing, Start Growing: Native Plants for Beginners and Beyond! Stop mowing and get going on building your dream landscape!

About this event

Whether you are new to native plants and what they can do for your property or you are looking for alternative landscaping ideas, this event is for you! Native plants can:

  • Create a beautiful yard
  • Save time so you can enjoy other activities
  • Create habitat for birds & pollinators
  • Save money on fertilizer & pesticides
  • Improve Water Quality
  • Curb Erosion


The cost of the event is $15. To register for the event, click "tickets" above.


There are no refunds


All of the presentations will be recorded. Participants will be e-mailed a link to view these presentations following the event.


As we get closer to the event, you'll be provided with zoom information. The zoom meeting will open at 8:45, 15 minutes before the keynote speaker.

Keynote Presentation: 9am - 10am

Natural Plant Communities, Native Plants, and You with Matt Bright

Natural Plant Communities exist all around us and are the fundamental way plant species arrange themselves in a natural setting. By understanding these arrangements and mimicking them in our own gardens and built environments we can maximize ecological value and retain a sense of place in the landscape. Matt will introduce the many resources that exist to decode the natural landscape around us including Earth Sangha's Native Plant Compendium, Glenn Tobin's Natural Ecological Communities of Northern Virginia, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Natural Heritage program and other resources for regions farther afield.

Breakout Sessions:

    • 10:05-11:05, Breakout Session 1
    • 11:05-11:30, Break
    • 11:30-12:30, Breakout Session 2
    • 12:30-1:00, Lunch break
    • 1:00-2:00, Breakout Session 3
    • 2:00-2:30, Q & A

1) Landscape Design Track (**This is a 3 part breakout session; you must sign up for all 3 sessions**)

Note: This track is full

Session I - Principles of Landscape Design begins with an overview of the elements of landscape design and a review of the many aspects that must be taken into account when making decisions about what you want your landscape to do for you.

Session II - Practices of Landscape Design will showcase actual tips and tricks for achieving a desired look and discuss how and why these work.

Session III - Designing Your Landscape - You will learn the steps of creating a design using your site analysis from creating the conceptual plan to creating the planting plan.

Each session builds upon the session before it, and attendees must register for all three sessions. Some pre-class preparation is necessary.* Pre-class preparation will include:

  • Photos of a small area (not to exceed 16 ft. x 20 ft.) of your yard you want to convert to natives
  • A single sheet, “to-scale” drawing of the area with which you wish to have assistance.

*Following registration, you will receive directions on uploading your photos and plan view to Google Docs in advance of class.

    Kirsten Conrad, Agriculture Natural Resources Extension Agent for Arlington County and the City of Alexandria

    For Breakout Sessions 1, 2, and 3

2) Meadows

Add color and beauty to your yard while supporting local wildlife by starting a native wildflower meadow. Learn how to plan, plant, and maintain a native plant meadow.

    Nancy Berlin, Natural Resource Specialist, VA Cooperative Extension- Prince William

    Available for Breakout Session 1

3) How Backyard Gardeners can help Combat Climate Chaos

Backyard gardeners and small farmers are the stewards of our planet's precious soil. Maintaining healthy soil, planting trees, and growing vegetables is not only an act of self-reliance and determination – but it is actually addressing a solution to our evolving climate disaster.

    Janene Cullen, PhD, Virginia Cooperative Extension Prince William Master Gardener, Audubon Ambassador

    Available for Breakout Session 1

4) Herbaceous Perennial Natives for the Suburban Yard

Nancy covers a selection of perennial native plants and discusses finding the right plant for the right place as you convert your yard into a native landscape.

    Nancy Vehrs, President of the Virginia Native Plant Society and the Prince William Wildflower Society

    Available for Breakout Session 1

5) Building Healthy Soil

Understanding the composition of healthy soils, how they are often altered by construction of homes, etc. and how you can improve soil health is key to a vibrant landscape.

    Dan Schwartz, Soils Scientist, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District

    Available for Breakout Session 2

6) Native Edibles and Medicinal Plants

Join Outdoor Life Magazine writer and New York Times Bestselling author Tim MacWelch to discover some of the surprising uses of Virginia's native trees, shrubs and plants. Many of the same resources that sustained our ancestors are still available to us today; and food and medicine may be closer than you think.

    Tim MacWelch, School Founder and Head Instructor of Advanced Survival Training

    Available for Breakout Session 2

7) Native Bees Need Native Plants: A Surprisingly Tight Relationship

Sam Droege will explain “why, plain and simple, native bees are picky. Over millions of years bees and flowering plants have balkanized, forming little tight relationships to the exclusion of other bees and insects. We will talk about these 30%+ of the 450 bee species in Virginia and the plants they dance with. Lots of pictures, stories, and biodiversity.” Some of you, having encountered Sam’s spectacular bee photography, already know you are in for a treat!

    Sam Droege, Wildlife Biologist, United States Geological Survey (USGS)

    Available for Breakout Session 2

8) Selecting and Planting Trees for Life

Learn the basics of the ecological life of trees and how those basic principles can help you to select and plant trees to increase the ecological health and benefits of your property.

    Julie Flanagan, Arborist, PWC Watershed Management

    Available for Breakout Session 3

9) Common Mid-Atlantic Garden Invasive Plants: Origin, Impacts, and Management

Together we will discuss invasive plants that persist in mid-Atlantic gardens and address management strategies for controlling them. We will look at species profiles and case studies of management in natural areas to apply lessons learned in garden environments.

    John Burke, Natural Resources Branch Manager, Fairfax County Park Authority

    Available for Breakout Session 3

10) Container Gardening with Natives

Container gardens are a good way to garden on a patio or deck. Native plants can provide beauty, seasonal interest and habitat.

    Nancy Berlin, Natural Resource Specialist, VA Cooperative Extension- Prince William

    Available for Breakout Session 3

Please remember to keep your tickets handy either in the Eventbrite app or your email. You will need them at check-in.

Event Sponsors

  • Northern Virginia Community College
  • Plant NOVA Natives
  • Prince William Conservation Alliance
  • Prince William Soil & Water Conservation District
  • PWC Watershed Management Branch
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension
  • Virginia Native Plant Society

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