Together we can help the Earth from our own yards. I’m Haeley from San Antonio, Texas and I’m excited to show you how!

Did you know that the right plants can turn your yard into an oasis for bees, butterflies, and other insects? However most of our yards consist of turf grass, shrubs, and trees from other parts of the world that do little beyond look good.

I’m here to help you find plants native to your local area that not only LOOK good, they DO good!

I started Native Backyards to help spread the word about the importance of growing plants that are native to your area.


My Native Plant Journey

For years, I was a novice flower gardener, starting with a set of container pots on the roof deck of our first condo in Chicago in 2005. While my plants in Chicago thrived in the mild summers, when we moved to San Antonio, Texas I struggled to keep anything alive! I spent way too much money on annuals that died once 100 degree temps hit.

I never gave much thought to the plants I chose at the nursery. I just picked flowers that looked pretty. I never considered where the plants originated from, or what ecosystem benefits they offered, such as feeding insects or conserving water.

Then I enrolled in the Texas Master Naturalist program in 2019 and I started to see plants with an entirely new set of eyes. I learned about the critical role that our native plants play as the basis of the food web, and how we’ve largely removed them from our landscapes, eliminating important food sources and habitat for our local insects and wildlife

I realized I had been gardening purely for aesthetics and my enjoyment, but what I needed to be doing was gardening for the planet. Once I realized I could make a real impact from my own yard, I was hooked! Since then, I’ve:

  • Added over 50 Texas native plant species to my yard.
  • Removed over 500 sq. foot of St. Augustine grass and replaced it with native plant beds.
  • Seen my yard come to life with butterflies, bees, and birds!

I am now on the board of my local chapters of both the Texas Master Naturalist program and Native Plant Society of Texas. I spend hundreds of volunteer hours each year helping plant and maintain Texas native plants in local natural areas, create pollinator gardens at local schools, and spread the word about native plants.

In 2022 I published a book to help other “native plant newbies” get started growing more native plants today. Since launching in 2020, nearly one million people have visited the site to learn about growing native plants!

Experimenting in My Texas Backyard

I named this site Native Backyards because for many of us, our backyard is where we spend the most time experiencing nature. My backyard in San Antonio, TX is my experimentation zone. Here is a glimpse of how it has transformed since 2019:

2019: My Backyard – Before

The main landscaped bed in my backyard was filled primarily with invasive Nandina shrubs and a couple beautiful native Live Oak trees.
garden bed

2020: First Attempt at a Semi-Native Plant Garden

I removed the shrubs to begin experimenting with some Texas native plants, making some mistakes along the way!
Native wildflower bed

2020: Adding Wildflower Bed Behind Fence

I cleared an area behind our backyard fence to experiment growing a Texas native wildflower bed from seed.

See how I did it!

Removing grass for garden bed

2021: Removing Grass to Expand Garden Bed

I removed 200 sq. ft. of grass to double the size of my garden bed, adding lots of Texas native plants.

Watch the transformation!

About Native Backyards

2022: Incorporating More Texas Native Plants

Once I started adding native plants, it was hard to stop! I spent 2022 filling in gaps and replacing some of my initial plants that had died.
Native Backyards garden

2023: My Backyard Today

My garden really started to shine in 2023. As they say “first year – sleep, second year – creep, third year – leap!”

See a video of my garden

You can bring your yard to life with native plants. I’ll help!

Join my email newsletter and I’ll send you my best tips and tricks for growing native plants each week.

Learn from Me!

Get the Book

Native Plant Gardening for Beginners is your QUICK START GUIDE to making your native plant garden a REALITY!

Take a Class

I’ve created workshops to help you Jumpstart Your Native Plant Garden and grow 20 No-Fail Texas Native Plants!

Email Me

Shoot me a note at any time with a gardening question. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

10 Facts About Me

  • I’m a mom to two girls – Stella (14) and Hazel (12), and married to my husband Ross for 18 years. We live in Texas.
  • I’m a Cornhusker fan! I was born and raised in Nebraska.
  • I moved across the country to attend the University of Pennsylvania. I have a degree in Marketing from The Wharton School.
  • I spent seven years as a management consultant in Boston and Chicago before I became a stay-at-home mom.
  • I’ve been a blogger for over a decade. I started my first website in 2011 – a crafting and home decor blog called Design Improvised. I started Native Backyards in 2020.
  • I’m a coffee lover and alcohol abstainer. I like dark chocolate and don’t like foods with vinegar.
  • Yo hablo Espa├▒ol – mas or menos!
  • When I’m not working on Native Backyards during the week, you can find me maintaining gardens at local parks and schools.
  • I love watering plants and can weed all day long if I have some good podcasts to listen to. This is my favorite weeding tool (affiliate link).
  • I have an Etsy shop for native plant lovers with garden signs, shirts, stickers, and more!
  • Besides gardening, my favorite pastimes include reading, yoga, crafting, going on trips with my family, and sitting on my patio listening to the birds!
Native Backyards