Front Yard Initiative

The Front Yard Initiative, the UC's response to excessive yard paving, is a project working to improve New Orleans’ safety, stormwater management, and beauty.


The Front Yard Initiative is  UC’s response to excessive yard paving. Rampant front yard paving is a community issue that has broad and significant effects on the city of New Orleans from stormwater to safety.

The Front Yard Initiative is an incentive program that reimburses eligible homeowners $2.50 per square foot of paving removed- up to 500 square feet- for a max of $1,250. screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-3-00-56-pm                                             Click Here!

Issue Details

Paving in excess of 40% of your front yard (and side yard on corner lots) is illegal in most New Orleans neighborhoods under the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO). Since no permit issuance is required to pave a front yard area, the practice is widespread. Property owners replace their green spaces in favor of concrete and other impermeable surfaces in an effort to provide additional parking and/or reduce yard maintenance. These hard surfaces affect more than the single lot on which they sit.

This program aims to further the sustainability and resilience goals spelled out in the GNO Urban Water Plan, Article 23 of the new CZO, the New Orleans Master Plan, in addition to complementing the Complete Streets policy.

excessive pavingLearn more about problems caused by excessive paving.

To deter future excessive paving and to minimize after-the-fact confusion and adjudication, the Urban Conservancy proposed that the city require a permit for yard paving. We continue to advocate for this permit.

Important Links

FYI Terms + Conditions

Design Requirements 

Project Checklist

Read more about how FYI got started!

Report a violation    |    Track 311 Cases

Update 12

Aug 2017

Not-so-fun fact: Paving front yards in excess of 40% is illegal in most neighborhoods.

“The more pavement we have, the less water the ground absorbs. The less water the ground absorbs, the faster the water pours into the storm drains. The faster the water pours into those drains, the more likely it is that the system will become overwhelmed and that the water will back up.” Read this great opinion piece by Jarvis DeBerry published on on August 12, 2017.

Update 11

Apr 2017

Infiltration Test

We shot this video March 13, 2017, after a rainy weekend on a residential lot in Broadmoor that participated in the Front Yard Initiative. We tested the permeable  Truegrid driveway with help from Anthony Kendrick of Construction EcoServices. According to the results of the ASTM C1781 Test Calculator, the infiltration rate is over 800 inches per hour, with 5 gallons of water infiltrating within a sealed 12″ area in 42 seconds.  The permeable driveway was installed over a year ago.

The TrueGrid was sourced from Quality Sitework Materials and installed by Evans + Lighter Landscape Architecture.

Update 10

Dec 2016

  • Our next FYI workshop is January 26th at 6pm.  This workshop is the required first step in the Front Yard Initiative. Free and open to the public.
  • Front Porch Party


Update 9

Sep 2016

Urban Conservancy’s Front Yard Initiative got some great press recently!

Check us out in MidCity Messenger and in Curbed Nola!

excessive paving

Update 8

Jul 2016

The UC gets a mention in this article about 2015 Urban Hero, Jay Nix.

Photo by David Grunfeld, | The Times-Picayune

House Tour: Parkway Bakery owners’ waterfront home above Bayou Sauvage

Update 7

The Urban Conservancy’s Front Yard Initiative gets a great mention! Removing excessive paving decreases street flooding by capturing water where it falls and increasing onsite permeability.

Image by Dana Eness, Urban Conservancy

6 ways New Orleans residents can help fight street flooding

Update 6

Jun 2016


June 7, 2016



Andreas Hoffmann, Executive Director

Green Light New Orleans

Tel. 504-342-4966


Dana Eness, Executive Director

Urban Conservancy

Tel. 504-232-7821




NEW ORLEANS, LA — Green Light New Orleans and the Urban Conservancy received a total of $250,000 in grant money from the Allianz Katrina Fund to promote sustainable living in Orleans and Jefferson Parish by implementing programs which address energy consumption, water mitigation and fresh food access.

Allianz is a global financial services company working primarily in insurance and asset management in more than 70 countries around the world. The Allianz grant is administered through the Allianz Foundation for North America (AZFNA). AZFNA Executive Director Christopher Worthley stated of the grant: “In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Allianz made a $1 million, long-­term commitment to support people and communities impacted by Katrina. We are honored to fulfill this pledge now with two grants to Green Light New Orleans and the Urban Conservancy in order to promote the use of money­saving, compact fluorescent light bulbs, healthy urban gardening and hard surface reduction for improved water management.”

The grant was matched by an in-kind donation­ of 3,500 LED light bulbs from Phillips to leverage the funding for light bulb implementation in Jefferson Parish. Green Light New Orleans is home to the energy efficient light bulb program and the backyard vegetable garden program as well as a rain barrel pilot program funded by the Greater New Orleans Foundation.  Green Light’s energy efficient light bulb exchange program has served 26,000 homes with the help of 13,000 volunteers. The backyard vegetable garden program has installed over 500 backyard gardens to date with 300 more individuals on the waiting list, contributing to a growing and vibrant community of gardeners in New Orleans.

The grant money will be distributed among all Green Light’s initiatives which promote environmental awareness and sustainability in New Orleans. Executive Director Andreas Hoffmann says, “We are excited that the Allianz Foundation supports all our initiatives with this inclusive grant and understands that the energy efficient light bulbs, backyard vegetable gardens, the teaching garden and the rain barrel program are all connected to move New Orleans residents towards a sustainable lifestyle.”

The Urban Conservancy will use funding to further efforts to remove excessive paving in neighborhoods and to reduce stormwater run-off.  Since its founding in 2001, the Urban Conservancy has catalyzed sustainable solutions to New Orleans’ distinct land use needs through community and K­12 education and neighborhood­-level engagement. Dana Eness, Executive Director of the Urban Conservancy, states: “Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath made it impossible to ignore subsidence, flooding, aging infrastructure, and coastal erosion.  We at the Urban Conservancy were compelled to take a leadership role in raising public awareness about the need to redefine our relationship with water through integrated water management strategies and systems. The Front Yard Initiative literally brings real solutions to our water challenges right to the doorsteps of New Orleans’ residents.”

Eness and Hoffmann have issued a joint statement: “We are thrilled about this opportunity to partner and bring sustainable services to the New Orleans community.”


About Green Light: Green Light New Orleans is an environmental nonprofit serving the local community through installation of free energy efficient light bulbs and backyard vegetable gardens. The energy efficient lightbulb program has been exchanging light bulbs since 2012. The backyard vegetable program has been installing gardens at the homes of individuals since 2006. Green Light is currently implementing the rain barrel pilot program. Green Light connects New Orleans residents to relevant, local opportunities and encourages individual actions so that everyone can benefit from a vibrant, resilient, and sustainable community. Green Light New Orleans is headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana.

About the Urban Conservancy: The Urban Conservancy catalyzes equitable practices and policies related to land use and the local economy in New Orleans.  It has been involved in numerous initiatives designed to support citywide water management goals including the Lafitte Greenway; the Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative; BASIN, a water literacy and environmental stewardship program for children; and the Front Yard Initiative, which helps homeowners reduce unwanted paving and install water-smart landscaping. The Urban Conservancy is headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana.

About Allianz Foundation of North America: The financial services companies of the worldwide Allianz Group share a fundamental concern for safeguarding the future. In all areas of their business, Allianz Group companies find a common purpose in empowering people to manage risks and plan well for the future, and they do this in the interest of numerous stakeholders, ­ customers, employees, shareholders and society itself. The Foundation is committed to creating sustainable social value by partnering with programs that help young people develop the skills, motivation, perspectives and opportunities they need to be successful, self-­reliant and socially conscious members of society. We also seek to facilitate dialogue and networking among our diverse not-­for­-profit partners so that together we can maximize the social impact of our work.

Update 5

Jan 2016

Urban Conservancy Staff : CHERYL GERBER PHOTOGRAPH

Urban Conservancy in St. Charles Avenue

“The UC’s Front Yard Initiative gets a great feature. “I’m really excited about our program in schools for kids, as well as the homeowners, on exciting and really fun ways that they can make their city more beautiful by paving less and planting more,” she says.

For homeowners who already have paved yards, the Front Yard Initiative can help them tackle the technical and financial challenges that are involved in removing the pavement. By providing resources and examples of other homeowners who have completed the renovation, the initiative can help make the process easier.”

Update 4

Dec 2015

Green Infrastructure in Your Future

Space is limited.  Register Today!

What:  Stormwater Management Workshop

Where: BioInnovation Center, 1441 Canal St, New Orleans LA  70112

When:  Thursday, December 10, 2015, 8 am – 3 pm

Who:  Contractors, architects, planners and others working on commercial and residential projects in Orleans Parish will learn the basics of stormwater management, regulations, and construction, and how building stormwater management expertise can increase business and profit.  Participants will also learn about new permeable paving and other products on the market.

Approved by the LSLBC for 6 hours of CE credit for Licensed Residential Contractors.

Presented by: LCIA, Dana Brown & Associates, and the Urban Conservancy.

Lunch is $15; the course is free. Register today!

Update 3

Apr 2015

The UC, Front Yard Initiative and smart water management all got some great coverage from the Lens’ “Breakfast with the Newsmakers: A look behind the Headlines” series. Watch as Karen Gabois interviews Dana of the effects of excessive paving and what is being done to reverse this troubling trend.


Here are some resources we’ve assembled to get you on your way to a greener yard and less flood-prone city. The Urban Conservancy is providing this on an informational basis only. Green Sector Professionals on our Resource List all have a proven track record and are licensed and insured.

Property owners should engage in the necessary due diligence before entering into any contractual relationship with vendors or service providers. If you ever have any questions, run into difficulties, or need help finding a service provider, call us at (504) 717-6187 or email and we will be happy to help.

Workshop Links: FYI Design Workshop | FYI Toolkit  FYI Plant List

New to stormwater management?

Check out this wonderful DIY guide, The Joy of Water to get you started.
It takes you through vocabulary, site assessment tips, and DIY stormwater projects you can do at home.

1. Concrete Demo & Removal

EcoUrban Landscaping
Green Way Inc. : 504-469-4424,
Lakeview Demolition : 504-329-0640
Rue Contractors (Mike Richard): 504-723-9072

When You Remove Concrete: You or your contractor will dial LA One Call and 311 to identify underground utilities before you dig. The Urban Conservancy strongly advises you to also get information from the S&WB Engineering Department about underground waterlines on your property. If you have trouble getting that information from the S&WB, contact the UC and we will assist.

2. Engineering Firms

Building & Earth– Scott Smith, P.E. – Branch Manager

“Our goal is to provide a one-stop shop for your storm water detention needs.  We provide quality work at an affordable price and strive to get your storm water detention requirements performed correctly the first time in a timely and affordable manner.” (504) 471-9994

3. Landscaping

Landscape Architects
DesignJones LLC– design only


Breeden Landscaping- breedenlandscaping@gmail.com504-352 3990  
Landscape, Maintenance, True Grid
“We are an organic, sustainable full-service property management and landscape company. No job too small. We specialize in sourcing hard to find native, cultural and xeriscape varieties that work in the modern garden both aesthetically and horticulturally.”
EcoUrban Landscapingconcrete removal, landscaping, TrueGrid
Greenman Dan concrete removal, landscaping, TrueGrid
Royalty Horticulture– 409-877-3342,
Certified arborist, landscaping, pesticide application, OT

For Large Scale Residential and Commercial Projects
Garden Environments, Inc.  (504) 475-5809,
-Concrete removal, landscaping, TrueGrid

4. Native Plants

Native plants are an important part of green infrastructure. They absorb more water and take less maintenance than non-natives and are built to thrive in our climate and have high tolerance for both wet and dry conditions.

Breeden Plants: Or 504-352-3990
“Your local source for Native Plants. We have a large selection of hard to find native plants, and years of experience with proven varieties. We have great varieties of New Orleans cultural plants as well. We ship to the door. ”

Louisiana Growers– Look for them at Spring and Fall garden shows!

Almost Eden– Louisiana native plants for purchase online – and they ship!

Native Plant Resource-Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Tips for growing the Louisiana Iris– A great site for in-depth information. See also: Identifying Iris impostors 

5. Permeable Pavement

An alternative to traditional concrete that lets water soak through it and back into the ground.

True Grid:
Quality Sitework Materials– certified TrueGrid distributor
TJ Truxillo, Business Development
W:855-469-2015 C:985-859-9681

  • By going through TJ you receive a discount on TrueGrid, support, and installation supervision.  Mention the FYI program!
  • Check out the parking lot at Parkway Bakery and Tavern for a local example of implementation!

GftK Mortar– permeable grout- for use with permeable or traditional pavers

Nic Stover, Milestone Imports Inc.

Pavestone (note: must order more than 2000 square feet)

For more info: David Nelson
Cell # 504-701-5853 | Office # 985-882-9111
Address: 29095 Krentel Road
Lacombe, La 70445.

If you’re interested in installing permeable pavers, please notify us and we’ll guide you through the process.  504-717-6187 or 

6. Soil Conditioning

A couple of local companies can provide you with composted and other materials that will provide you with optimal planting conditions. Check out these innovative local businesses:
Grounds to Ground is a New Orleans start-up that creates a natural pest repellent and soil conditioner made from recycled coffee waste.
Laughing Buddha Nursery has bulk soil, mulch, compost, and so much more to keep your yard happy.

Next Steps

Catch Basin Cleanup

UC Catch Basin Cleanup Tips

Check your drains and see if they are blocked with leaves and other debris. Go ahead and clean them out yourself, or gather your neighbors or Neighborhood Association to set up a storm drain cleaning event. You’d be surprised how easy it is, and how much cleaning out one drain helps!


Your new landscaping is installed and looking beautiful. Keep it that way and help grow our skilled landscape maintenance workforce by hiring someone to maintain your new green infrastructure.

Groundwork New Orleans, a nonprofit that provides training in water-wise landscape installation and maintenance to high school students. Hire Groundwork to provide semi-monthly maintenance and by doing so, know you’re creating jobs for young New Orleanians.

Breeden Landscaping- breedenlandscaping@gmail.com504-352-3990
“Proper Landscape Maintenance requires an extensive knowledge of plant materials and the horticultural practices that ensure the landscape’s full potential. We are experienced in native plant, cultural plant(Gardenias, Jasmine, Camellias, Azaleas, etc.), and rain garden maintenance. Offering affordable monthly maintenance plans that include organic fertilizer.”

Spread the Word

Call us at (504) 717-6187 or email to request door hangers with information about FYI to share with your friends and neighbors.

Parks and Parkways User Guides: P&P Tree Permitting Pamphlet  | Design Standards for Plantings on Public Green Space | Choosing An Appropriate Tree

Workshop Links
FYI Design Workshop Presentation 
FYI Toolkit
Recommended Plant List
Design Examples

Other Links 
Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan
Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative

Front Yard Ambassadors Program – San Francisco, CA
Depave – Portland, OR


Managing Water in New Orleans- from Dana Brown & Associates
The Bowl- How New Orleans Became a “Bowl”



How much will it cost?

Concrete removal costs will vary, but $2.50 a square foot seems to be average.

Who can I contact from the city with questions?


Or visit One Stop Shop (7th floor of City Hall) on Wednesdays to speak to a City Planner familiar with stormwater techniques.

Where do I report a paving violation?

The city has an online form where you can report anonymously.

Glossary of Terms

Article 23

Article 23 of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (effective August 12, 2015) provides requirements for landscape, stormwater management and screening.
The intent of the stormwater regulations is to encourage sustainable development practices in new development or redevelopment projects, reduce urban runoff into the existing drainage system, diminish subsidence rates, and to comply with federal, state, and local regulations for urban stormwater management. This can be accomplished by slowing the surface flow of stormwater runoff and promoting filtration, plant uptake, absorption, and infiltration into sub-soils.


A channeled depression or trench that receives and holds rainwater runoff (as from a parking lot) and has vegetation (such as grasses, flowering plants) that rids the water of pollutants. These slow water entering the drainage system during storms.

Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO)

The Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) is the law that governs land use throughout the City of New Orleans. The CZO includes lists of permitted land uses for each of the City’s zoning districts, in addition to height limits, setback requirements, urban design standards, operational rules, and other regulations.

Green Infrastructure

A design element for a property that uses landscaped systems or engineered systems that mimic natural systems


Water present beneath the Earth's surface

Impervious (non-permeable)

Does not allow water to be absorbed into or through surface, as in concrete, asphalt, roofs

Permeable (pervious)

Allows water to be absorbed into or through the surface, as in permeable paving

Rain Garden

A planted depression that allows rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas like roofs, driveways, walkways, and compacted lawn areas to be absorbed into the earth

Recharged Groundwater

A hydrologic process where water moves downward from surface water to groundwater.

Stormwater Runoff

Rainwater that does not soak into the ground but flows over impervious areas or areas already saturated with water


The lowering of a portion of the Earth's crust

Subsidence occurs when large amounts of groundwater have been withdrawn from certain types of soil, such as fine-grained sediments like we have in New Orleans. The soil compacts because the water is partly responsible for holding the ground up. When the water is withdrawn, the soil falls in on itself, causing damage to property and streets (think foundation issues and potholes).

FYI Projects

FYI Inspired Projects

Take Action

Interested in going gray to green?

Please fill out the form below to be notified when the next round of FYI opens.

 FYI Design Workshop dates: November 4th, 10-11 AM

Read the FYI Terms and Conditions and Guidelines and review the FYI Project Checklist and Design Requirements!

Call: 504-717-6187 or email