The St. Louis Open Yards program recognizes the tremendous diversity of native plants and their gardeners and that each native plant landscape looks different from week to week and month to month. No single day event can capture multiple seasons of beauty and inspiration; some gardens will be at their peak while others past or not yet reached, and all will look different on a different day. Our hosts’ open dates reflect their own unique landscape and when they feel their yard is best seen.
Open Yards also knows there are amazing wildlife gardens across our wide region, from Elsah to Edwardsville and Washington to Webster Groves. A single day event makes it nearly impossible to showcase places so widely distributed. Instead, use our search engine to find naturescapes right where you are or where you will be on a particular date. As the program grows, we are confident more and more of the communities throughout the region will be represented with Open Yards.
The St. Louis Open Yards program was created by a small group of native plant enthusiasts led by Mitch Leachman. The program committee continues to monitor, evaluate and improve the program. The committee includes:
- Kathy Baird, Illinois Master Naturalists
- Karen Giovanoni, Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association
- Ellen Hartz, Missouri Botanical Garden Litzsinger Road Ecology Center
- Sarah Heitfeld-Schroeder, Wild Ones St. Charles Area Chapter
St. Louis Open Yards is owned by Mitch Leachman, who receives revenue from the program to cover Open Yards-related expenses. The balance of Open Yards proceeds are returned to the community through our network of non-profit charities which were selected by our yard hosts.
Mitch Leachman seeks creative ways to inspire people to utilize native plants in their landscape. Prior to building Open Yards, Mitch co-founded and coordinated the St. Louis Audubon Society’s Bring Conservation Home program from 2012 until early 2021. During his tenure, the BCH program delivered over 1,400 on-site native landscape consultations with the potential of creating over 600 acres of wildlife habitat. Mitch has also delivered over 150 presentations and seminars on native plants and gardening for wildlife.