Suzanne’s Speaking Resume

The Tyranny of Landscaping

Lecture Resume

I can’t say that I have ever seen anyone smiling while mowing their lawn.” —- Ginger Lee Frost —-

Christian Women’s Club, Suffolk Chapter “Land Stewards Instead of Land Scrapers” 2001

Southampton Town Planning Board, January 2003

The Nature Lyceum, monthly since, 2003

Your Honor … About the uniqueness of the course you teach — I have not found anyone else in almost 60 years that teaches it except for you. Thank you for inspiring others in the Green Industry to think differently, your approach to landscaping and horticulture is refreshing, truthful, with the times, and in sync with being an ‘Earth Keeper’. You are an Earth Keeper, a rare form of Human.”

—–Jeff Frank, Director, The Nature Lyceum —–

Thanks for all you do. The Earth is a better place because you are alive and here. No one speaks as eloquently as you do about the folks without voices, you are so important! You have a good influence on the school and the attendees – unique and one of a kind – just what is necessary. You should be at the hearing for Organic law.” ”

—–Jeff Frank, Director, The Nature Lyceum —–

I really enjoyed your talk today. It really woke me up to a lot of things. It is all so overwhelming what is going on around us I want to just breakdown and cry. The lawn thing really blew me away. I would like to get rid of my backyard lawn totally. “

—-Christine Murphy, Westhampton NY —-

Thanks so much for coming in to speak with us. I really enjoyed your talk and this a.m. I was out debating if I should just leave the weeds in my flower bed or pull them. I let some stay and the others are going to help out with the compost pile that I am starting. They were O.K. with that, and were glad to help.”

—–Lee Ann, A” Green Guerrilla Sister “—–

Suzanne brings light and love to all of us, as she changes minds about landscaping, and brings nature to the class in a big way. The Ambassador (a great horned owl) blows everyone’s minds.”

—–Jeff Frank, Director, The Nature Lyceum —–

We wanted to thank you again for the scholarship to the Nature Lyceum’s Green Guerilla program. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. The program was very interesting, we certainly learned a lot about organic growing, and especially enjoyed your presentation. We plan to put this knowledge to use in some of our future outreach and education programs. We also hope to further collaborate with you on some of these issues. Thanks again!”

—–Jennifer Skilbred and Jeremy Samuelson, The Group for the South Fork—–


Group for the South Fork – June 7th, 2008 –

Come enjoy a presentation by Suzanne Ruggles on the benefits of gardening in harmony with nature, and learn more about practicing native habitat gardening to restore our local environment. Her approach to landscaping promotes diversity and beauty, as well as an improved relationship with the natural world around us. Suzanne is an organic landscaper (The Barefoot Gardener), is a regular instructor at The Nature Lyceum for Organic Horticulture, and sits on the Board of Directors for The Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons. For reservations or more information, please contact Jennifer Skilbred at 537-1400 (x18) or

AIA (American Institute of Architects) Big Duck gathering – “Shill” for The Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons June 13 & 14, 2008

Earth Save Central Suffolk Chapter, Cornell Cooperative Extension

February 9, 2008

— Special Live PresentationJoin us after dinner for a special presentation by The Barefoot Gardener, Suzanne Ruggles.  Suzanne practices native habitat gardening to restore the earth by working with nature to promote diversity, beauty and harmony in the landscapes she co creates with Nature.  Her work brings to her clients a more holistic and spiritual relationship with the environment.  Suzanne is a regular instructor at The Nature Lyceum for Organic Horticulture and sits on the Board of Directors for The Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons.

I wrote down a few things that you said, which I wanted to discuss with you (you made some pretty profound points!). It was a terrific speech that anyone can relate to and should be moved by if they have any grey matter or any heart”

—– Vince Glasser, Earth Save, Chairperson —–

Ladies Senior Group 1880 House February 24, 2008

I just wanted to say thank you so much for coming over on Sunday, the ladies really, really enjoyed that. I wish I had more like that. That was really, really the best – probably the best meeting we’ve had with the people interacting and everything, and I just wanted to thank you so much.”

—–Elsie Collins, 1880 House, Westhampton Beach, Senior Citizen’s Group—–

Quogue Wildlife Refuge – April 29, 2008

Join Suzanne Ruggles, The Barefoot Gardener, for a wonderful program on attracting wildlife to your garden.  Suzanne practices native habitat gardening to restore the earth by working with Nature to promote diversity, beauty and harmony in the landscapes she co-creates with Nature.  Her work approach to “landscaping” is a more holistic and spiritual relationship with the environment than traditional landscaping.  Suzanne is a regular instructor at The Nature Lyceum for Organic Horticulture and sits on the Board of Directors for The Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons.  A free program for adults.  Reservations requested.

Long Island Pine Barrens Show – February 2009

“Hey Suzanne! We just enjoyed watching your interview. Your passion for nature is insurmountable. Please keep up the fine work. Your talent and understanding will benefit all that surround you. Best regards, Chris”

—–Chris Montpetit, Peat and Son Nursery, Westhampton NY—–

Source Water Protection Award May 4, 2009

Given by The Nature Conservancy, The Suffolk County Water Authority, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, and The Neighborhood Network

Cornell SOAR Project May 13, 2009Holtsville Ecology Site

You got great evaluations from the students!”

Peter Danforth M.Ed., Director of Operations, Project SOAR

Bayscaping” June 16th Childrens Museum of the Hamptons

Hosted by the Peconic Baykeeper and The Group for the East End

Others speakers included Kevin McAllister, Peconic Baykeeper and Jennifer Skilbred of the Group for the East End – shown on LITV

I just wanted to thank you again for getting involved with yesterday’s talk. I think you really added a lot to the event, and I really appreciate you taking the time to help.”

—Jennifer Skilbred—

Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons

Family Summer Education Series:

Wildlife Habitat Gardening

April 23, June 18,and July 9, 2009



The Nature Lyceum Graduate Course August 09

Thank you so very much for hosting part of the Lyceum workshop at your lovely home. Your work has inspired me over the past year to change our home’s landscaping to a greater degree and attending again this year is just propelling us further. Being in your environmental surroundings brings such joy to the soul!

—–Love, light, and blessings, Susan and Scott Anderson, CEOs, Seeds for Change” —–



Thank you for sharing your magical garden and home with all of us”. —Love, Susan Friedman—

—–Westhampton Beach, NY—–

Certified Wildlife Habitat Lecture and Garden Tour

At the home of Maria Daddino in East Quogue, NY in conjunction with The Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons.


At the home of Maria Daddino in East Quogue, NY

July 28, 2012

At the home of Maria Daddino in East Quogue, NY in conjunction with The Quogue Wildlife Refuge September 8, 2012

Long Island Master Gardeners

The Tyranny of Landscaping: How Common Landscaping Practices Hurt Us and The Entire Earth and How Your Backyard Can Save the World

February 20, 2013


Birdhouse Guy’s Backyard Network Talk Show

November 10, 2012

Published Articles

The Southampton Press

“Lawn Care Catastrophe” January 2003

“A No That’s a Yes” March, 2003

“What is to Stop Westhampton from Becoming Babylon” April 2004

Viewpoint: “Reclaim Lawns, Save the Planet” June 4, 2009

“Hurricane Katrina Animal Rescue Story” October, 05

Why would you want to give away your leaves? November 18 2010

Wildlife Lines – the quarterly newsletter of The Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons

“What’s to Prevent the East from Becoming “Up Island”? Fall 2004

“Up Island” Part 2 – Winter 2005

“Hurricane Katrina Rescue” – Fall 2005

“Deer Oh Deer” – Winter 2006

Watch for my Upcoming book :

The Tyranny of Landscaping

Additional Press

(articles about Suzanne or that she is quoted in)

The Southampton Press

“Naturally Beautiful: Gardens As Habitats” July 2, 2009

“Barefoot Gardener Honored” May 14, 2009

“From Fourth Neck” May 7, 2009

Westhampton/Hampton Bays Patch

Q&A – “Meet The BusinessOwner “

September 6, 2012

Television and Film Appearances

The Long Island Pine Barrens Society Talk Show

February 2009

Natural Landscaping and Organic Farming

TV 10/55 Green with Pride Series


SCWA Source Protection Award Interview with Dick Amper and Suzanne Ruggles

Long Island Naturally with Mary Mucci


Cablevision Public Access

Lawns: A Dangerous Obsession

A film by Cile Downs of the Acabonac Protection Committee featuring Suzanne Ruggles, Edwina Van Gal, and Kevin McAllister followed by a group discussion featuring also Beth Fiteni, sponsored by the League of Women Voters

The Tyranny of Landscaping

April 2013 through September 2013

Watch for Cile’s new film on the importance of Grasslands coming out in summer 2013

Photos used in 08 Group for the East End Calendar (native plants)

Dear Suzanne Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful photos with us! We will definitely be putting some of them in our calendar. I look forward to working with you again in the future.”

—–Jennifer Skilbred, Group for the South Fork—–


Champion of the Wild – Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons , 2003

Source Water Protection Award – Long Island Pine Barrens Society, The Nature Conservancy, The Neighborhood Network, The Suffolk County Water Authority, April 2009

Nomination letters

Suzanne Ruggles is a naturalist and native gardener based out of Westhampton, NY.  The name of her business, and the name by which she is known, is “The Barefoot Gardener.”

On a mission to dissuade people from using pesticides, insecticides, and other unnatural additives to their lawns and gardens, Suzanne instead focuses her clients and students on the different ways to co-create with nature, creating stunning and naturally balanced landscapes by first honoring what native plants pre exist on their properties, and if and where necessary – to re-vegetate using native plants.

The benefits of protecting nature and/or revegetating with native grasses, flowers, and trees are many, she says.  Native gardens require less watering because they are suited to the climate, soils, and other environmental factors of their native regions. They also have built-in defenses against native insect, viral, and fungal predators,  and are thus less likely to succumb to the different fungi and insects that plague non-native plants, thus eliminating the need for costly (both to the pocket and to the environment) chemical assistance or “life support” as she calls it. Further, native creatures have co-evolved with native plants, so butterflies, turtles, hummingbirds, songbirds, beneficial insects, and countless other species are plentiful in native gardens, and the presence of these creatures helps to strike the balance nature intended, where birds control the overpopulation of ticks and mosquitoes, for example.

Suzanne is passionate and most committed to educating people about the environmental harm caused by the monoculture of traditional lawns.  Bright green carpet-like yards are an abomination she says, and possible only by using non-native grasses and the assistance of various harmful chemicals to subdue the forest underneath, not to mention the lack of emission standards for gas powered lawn equipment and the 17 million gallons of fuel oil that are spilled by gardeners each year while refueling lawn equipment.  In turn, these pesticides, insecticides, and other concoctions including chemical fertilizers, seep into the ground and into our water supply.  Furthermore, storm water runoff is increased where lawns are the rule instead of a canopy of native trees, grasses, and wildflowers.

By showing people how spectacular, how peaceful, how bio-diverse, and how life-affirming native plantings can be; and by educating them on the benefits, the joys, and the freedom of using native plants, Suzanne is quickly transforming lawns – not only all over Long Island, but around the country.

Given that most Long Island residents have yards, if the practice of honoring natural systems, reducing lawn areas, and re-vegetating with native plants became widespread, it would significantly reduce the amount of pollution entering our groundwater and leaching into our bays, rivers, and other waterways.  These practices would also serve as major water conservation measures since native plantings, in most cases, require no artificial irrigation once they are established.

Suzanne speaks monthly about native habitat gardening, on a volunteer basis,  at The Nature Lyceum School for Organics in Westhampton,   On her property, which is certified by the National Wildlife Federation as an official Backyard Wildlife Habitat Site, she has hosted a three-day graduate course for The Nature Lyceum for the past three years, and she welcomes and encourages anyone who wants to visit to see and experience, first hand, this way of co-creation, respect, compassion, tolerance, and ultimately – peace with nature.   She has also lectured, as a volunteer, at many schools, civic and environmental organizations. She has been on the Neighborhood Network’s list of organic landscapers for many years, and she sits on the Board of Directors of The Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons, a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured wildlife.

She has published articles in The Southampton Press and in Wildlife Lines regarding the dangers of the typical landscape, the inherent sadness of overdevelopment, and the wonders of native plants; and she is currently writing a book called “The Tyranny of Landscaping.”

—–Jennifer Garvey of The Pine Barrens Society of Long Island (to nominate me for the Suffolk County Source Water Protection Award) —–

MaryAnn Johnston

8 Abbott Avenue

Manor Park, New York 11950

RE: Source Water Protection Awards

Dear Committee Members:

Suzanne Ruggles is my first cousin once removed. We grew up in a close-knit family during a time when most of West Babylon was still packed full of farms, deep woods, clean streams, wonderful wetlands and crystal clear bays. Our families taught us a deep and abiding love for the natural world. I am proud that Suzanne and I are related; in fact, I was once the older cousin babysitter for Suzanne and her five other siblings. Sadly, as we moved away from our childhood homes we lost touch for several years. Although, each went our separate ways, nonetheless it was that steadfast love for the environment and the natural world and Long Island that actually reconnected us once again. Make no mistake, Suzanne has forged her own unique path over those years, and has quietly worked to save Long Island’s drinking water, wildlife and native habitats while also creating peace, tranquility and harmony right outside the back door.

Yes, a shared love for the natural world and a fierce determination to save it have convinced us that each and every person can make a real difference by simply focusing attention on what each one of us can really do to make that difference. Suzanne works hard each day creating small self-sustaining environments where our drinking water, wildlife and native habitats coexist in harmony and balance. I can think of no other single individual working apart from an official group that is more deserving of this award and so I take great pride in nominating my cousin and my friend; Suzanne Ruggles, the Barefoot Gardener, for the 2008 Source Water Protection Award.

Yours truly,

Mary Ann Johnston

President, Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization

Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons Educational Talk to children

Hampton Bays Community Center

Quogue Library

Hay Ground School

Eastport Elementary School, March 23, 2005, to four fifth grade classes

Thank you for your dedication to the wildlife of Long Island, (including unusual “strays” from other lands). The fifth graders were very impressed and I know you made an impact.” —–Betsy Raynor, Teacher—–

Thank you so much for coming to Eastport School! I really enjoyed you coming. You taught me so much about animals. One thing I learned is that bunnies’ mothers only come in the morning and the afternoon. Also I really want to work at the Rescue Center when I get older because I love caring and helping out animals. Please come back soon! —–Sincerely, Danielle Miceli—–

I never knew that the baby bunnies are alone during the day. I will cut the six pack rings when I throw them out. —–Michael Lopiccalo—–

I’m glad you came to our school. I really appreciate it. I thought it was sad how the bird got his neck stuck in the plastic things because that was not fair to the bird. —Sincerely, Shannon Wohr—

I enjoyed listening to the wonderful facts you told us about wild animal life. I think it is wonderful that you saved over 900 animals last year and released them back into the wild. Now I know that in the future if an animal is hurt I will call your number. —–Sincerely, Reilly Brisson—–

I really appreciate you guys volunteering to come in and tell us all these wonderful things on what to do if an animal is injured. I never would have guessed. —Sincerely, Patrick Maund—

When I get to be sixteen I am going to try to get a job in the rescue center. I appreciate you coming to our school. Thank you for everything. —Your friend, Joey Tuttle—

Thank you very much for bringing in the animals that you cared for. You have a hard job and you take it seriously because of the animals and I respect that. —–Sincerely, Brianna Hayes—–

I really enjoyed the presentation you put together about your center. I appreciate that you volunteer to save wildlife that is in need. Thank you for a very enjoyable morning. —–Sincerely, Emily Kondrick——

I think it’s a great thing what you guys are doing. In the future my friends and I hope to volunteer there. I will look forward to not littering my community because it can hurt the animals. —–Sincerely, Tyler Aki——

I really enjoyed the turtle you brought. I felt really sad for the turtle. I learned to call you guys when a animal may be in danger. —–Sincerely, R J Macalpine——