Front Yard Initiative Highlighted in “The Greater Good”

The Greater New Orleans Foundation spoke with Urban Conservancy Executive Director Dana Eness about the Front Yard Initiative for their July issue of “The Greater Good.” Read Dana’s interview below or check out the full newsletter.

For people who aren’t familiar with the Urban Conservancy or the Front Yard Initiative (FYI), what are three things you’d like them to know about the work you all do?

We developed the Front Yard Initiative in 2015 to help people figure out how to get rid of excessive paving on their property and replace it with water-smart landscaping to reduce their flood risk. We increasingly talk about how green infrastructure reduces your exposure to extreme heat as well.
In addition to limited financial assistance, we provide all sorts of technical assistance to help residents undertake nature-based stormwater projects as time- and cost-effectively as possible. We encourage anyone interested in taking the next step to check out our FYI Resources tab at or to get in touch at
We have compiled a searchable green sector specialist directory to help homeowners find skilled specialists. We’re always happy to add new specialists that homeowners recommend!

What kind of tangible results can people see if they participate in FYI?

Nature-based solutions come with so many benefits! People can immediately expect to see less standing water on their property and for shorter periods of time after rain events. If they are including rain gardens and shade trees, they will soon experience a cooler and more biodiverse space around their home. The native and naturalized plants and trees best suited to withstand and even thrive in these crazy weather swings from drought to inundation attract all sorts of pollinators like bees and butterflies and birds. With care, these green spaces will only become more beautiful and effective over time as the roots become established.

What has been your most rewarding moment while serving the community in this capacity?

We just celebrated the completion of the 150th Front Yard Initiative project this summer. Collectively, those properties represent over 90,000 square feet of paving removed from New Orleans neighborhoods in all council districts, and an additional 170,000 gallons of water storage where it falls– before it hits the catch basins or floods our streets– per rain event.

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