Assessing four methods for establishing native plants on urban vacant land

Elsa C. Anderson*, Emily S. Minor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Urban greening increases vegetation and can restore ecological functions to urban systems. It has ties to restoration ecology, which aims to return degraded land to diverse, functional ecosystems. Both practices can be applied to maximizing ecosystem services and habitat in vacant lots, which are abundant in post-industrial cities, including Chicago, Illinois (USA), where our study took place. We tested four methods for increasing native plant diversity in vacant lots, ranging from low input to resource-intensive: seed bombing, broadcast seeding, planting plugs, and gardening. After three growing seasons, we assessed the growth of eight target native species and all non-target species. We expected that intensive treatments would have more target species stems and flowers and fewer non-target species, but we found that less-intensive options often produce equal or better results. From this, we recommend broadcast seeding as a viable, low-cost method for improving habitat and biodiversity in vacant lots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-705
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Broadcast seeding
  • Chicago
  • Greening
  • Native plantings
  • Seed bombs
  • Vacant lots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Chemistry


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