How To!

How To Restore Nature in the Heart of a City

Swiss Ambassador Jacques Pitteloud’s environmental diplomacy began with his own grass.


Episode Notes

When Swiss Ambassador Jacques Pitteloud moved to the District of Columbia, his residence was perfect. Too perfect. The Swiss ambassador’s residence sits on six acres on a hill with an awesome view of the Washington Monument. “I was amazed by the beauty of the whole setting.… It looked like a golf course and I don’t like golf courses. … They are ecological disasters,” Pitteloud reflected. Together with his gardening team, the ambassador has transformed the residence into a native oasis. On this episode of How To!, we’re taking a field trip to the Swiss ambassador’s residence. Pitteloud reveals how he brought back his beloved birds and even gave diplomatic immunity to local colonies of bees.

We talked last week with Doug Tallamy, who gave some wonderfully concrete advice on how you can revitalize your local ecosystem with just your yard. Ambassador Pitteloud is a living testament that you can have a meaningful impact with just your yard and he’s imploring others to follow suit. “Environmental protection has become ideological and politicized. This is not a political question. … It’s five minutes before midnight.”


Homegrown National Park

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard

Audubon Native Plants Database

National Wildlife Federation Native Plant Finder

SEEK by iNaturalist

If you liked this episode, check out part one: “How To Save the Planet, Starting With Your Yard.” Also check out our episode “How to (Really) Help Refugees,” as mentioned at the end of the show.

Do you have a problem that needs solving? Send us a note at or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Subscribe for free on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen.

Podcast production by Derek John and Rosemary Belson with help from Katie Shepherd and Madeline Ducharme.

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About the Show

What if Dear Abby were an investigative reporter? Each week, Amanda Ripley and Carvell Wallace take on listeners’ toughest problems and, with the help of experts, find the answers to questions you’ve always wanted to ask but couldn’t. Until now.

Do you have a problem that needs solving? Have you found the advice on our podcast helpful? Send us a note at or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might play it on the air.

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