This post is an extension of our newsletter article
by Laura Thipphawong
You’ve got property, great! It’s yours to do with what you wish, and we know that a well-manicured lawn has long been a source of homeowner pride. There is something about a lush, even, bright green lawn that brings to mind French palaces and luxury villas, and many waterfront property-owners have preferred to develop their spaces all the way to the shores, for that ultra-deliberate and planned-to-perfection look.
While we appreciate the finery of this aesthetic, the reality considering climate change is that every homeowner has the chance to contribute to a healthier and less-polluted environment, and back yards that require pesticide use, constant mowing, and shoreline development negatively affect our planet.
We invite you to consider a different, more naturalistic approach to landscaping - it's beneficial for wildlife, the environment, and will ultimately save time and money. Re-wilding doesn’t mean neglect. In fact, making your outdoor space into a naturalistic paradise takes planning and care, but in the long run the choice to keep your space more true to nature will be worth the initial effort, and will help reinstate many of the ecosystems natural processes.
Here are a few ways to naturalize, or fully re-wild your spaces.
Reduce Grass or go Grass-Free
Minimizing the amount of grass lawn on your property means fewer mows and less carbon emissions. Depending on how little grass you have, you may even consider a push-mower rather than a gas-powered one. Less grass also means less or no pesticide use, which can leech into soil, and detract natural wildlife including pollinators.
Keeping a grassy lawn all the way down to the waterfront in the case of lake or riverside houses is also detrimental to wildlife and can be costly to the property owner. A natural shoreline acts as an absorber of wave action, lessening the effects of storms, and preventing flooding.
Less flat grassy space also means more room for wildflower beds, pollinator gardens, and wildlife habitat, which brings us to our next point.
Plant a Pollinator Garden
Intentionally planting native plants and flowers (meaning varieties that were around before European colonization) will help to make up for the loss of so much natural landscape lost to overdevelopment and industrialization. It may be a small contribution, but every contribution helps. Giving at-risk and endangered species like bees and monarch butterflies a pollinator station full of healthy seasonal plants is both aesthetically pleasing and deeply rewarding.
Embrace the Wild
Many of us have been brought up to consider the yard to be an unending source of chores and maintenance, requiring constant attention that we must take seriously as responsible homeowners, but imagine a beautiful space that you can safely share with local wildlife through less work and greater respect for nature.
Take leaf-collection in the fall, for example, the time it takes to collect all that deadfall is actually impeding the natural cycle of the environment. As long as they don’t get into gutters and storm drains, letting dead leaves sit over winter helps prevent flooding by enriching the soil and protecting it from erosion. Leaves also insulate plants, animals, and larvae during the winter, and contribute to a healthy food cycle. Butterfly and moth larvae as well as some small amphibians overwinter under the fallen leaf beds. Additionally, the mulch from leaves acts as a natural fertilizer as they break down, helping to maintain a healthy and prosperous garden.
You can also let dead trees and stumps stay where they fall – they make great homes for local wildlife, including birds, bats, and bees. If you’re keen to make a home for local wildlife but don’t have any dead trees or stumps on your property, you can always buy a bird house or bat box and have them installed. The critters will thank you.