Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city is hip and urban – and you can, too.

Tag: Rewilding (page 2 of 3)

“Rewilding” your property converts it from the look of traditional landscaping to one of native landscaping. It uses limited paving to create artfully natural meadows and gardens. It uses shrubs, trees, and climbing vegetation for shade and cooling of the garden and the dwelling. Garden water features (ponds and fountains) attract wildlife. It also provides ways to retain water for the garden or drain water naturally away from the dwelling. It replaces asphalt driveways with limited paving and lawn. This retains water, cools the area, and provides beauty and habitat to pollinators and humans alike.
With greater attraction for birds, it makes sense to prevent them from striking your windows – so Rewilding does that, too. We use bird-saving devices on your windows and glass balconies to minimally interrupt human views, while saying loud and clear to birds “this isn’t sky, so don’t fly!”

Six weeks before the frost sets in (traditionally, people consider Canadian Thanksgiving the first-frost date, but it comes later), gardeners can often get an early start on the next year’s garden and crops. This time of year is perfect for doing transplants because roots are not likely to experience water and heat stress. It gives them a chance to establish themselves before the coming winter.

So I decided that it’s time for an event: a fall-oriented gardening session (click to read the outcome) to prepare a garden for next year and plant native species.

This hands-on event for the avid or casual gardener is a collaborative learning opportunity about native and cultivated plants for biodiverse wildlife gardens. We’ll share knowledge on gardening and native species for both shade and sun. You’re also welcome to bring plants from your garden and for swapping with other gardeners.

(More about the event, and then the video!)…

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You’ll never guess what’s been using my green driveway…

Last night I saw something charming enough that I posted it to the Facebook page, and I’m just going to copy it here. Without a direct video or photo (sorry!) I just have to tell it to you straight.

Tonight I had great satisfaction – and also proof-of-concept– when I came home from a run. As I passed my green driveway on the way in, I startled a small flock of chipping sparrows who were foraging on my green driveway, near the garage door. Success! They are getting more populous in my well-treed neighbourhood.

See more at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Chipping_Sparrow
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spizella-passerina-015_edit.jpg

Chipping Sparrow – WikiMedia file by Mdf, Edited by Fir0002

I’ve been confused about whether the birds I see are American Tree Sparrows or Chipping Sparrows. I haven’t heard the distinct call of the Tree Sparrow, but I often hear the distinct call of the Chipping Sparrow in spring. This persuaded me which one it was. (You can easily see the American Tree Sparrow and listen to the calls the birds make at the All About Birds link, above).

Since 2012, when I really started paying attention to the birds here in  Little Burgundy, the Chipping Sparrow is increasing in numbers. It will fluctuate, but increases are good. All cities need native habitat and the birds and animals that use it, and the birds will then benefit from cities. There’s already ecological census data indicating that cities are beginning to be beneficial environments for many species, and not just skunks and raccoons!

Plants for Birds – a native garden planning resource

Are you getting ready to plan or plant your garden? If so, Plants for Birds is for you!

It’s a native-plant database (plants that evolved in local landscapes) cross-referenced with the birds that enjoy those plants. Knowing which birds pass through your location along with what kinds of food and shelter they’ll enjoy, it’s a great research tool for making decisions to help wild birds.

For Americans, it’s even better – it’s integrated with local nurseries where you can buy the plants! This aspect won’t apply to Canadian gardeners, as we wouldn’t be able to shop and bring plants back across the border. However, we share some of the same Zones as the northern states (for example, Montreal is in Zone 5). Only distance and our immediate habitat type (for instance, dry and open vs. wet and forested) might differ, so it’s relatively safe to assume we can benefit from this cross-referencing.

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How the green driveway conversion is holding up

In 2015, I posted about converting a standard residential parking spot into a green driveway. It’s a pictorial, part of our Project portfolio. Three months after completing the job (from mid-May to August), I’d gotten used to the results and I was quite happy!

A year and half later – that is, last fall –  I was still pleased, having seen the results over seven seasons (spring through winter, then spring through fall). It was like an extra yard with cobblestone wheel paths, and an Adirondack chair in place after I got rid of my car.

There were only two problems I can complain about. If one parked on the green driveway for too long, without sun, the plants under the car would die back, but as soon as you parked elsewhere and watered them a day or two, the green would come back. So, if you drive to work most days: no problem! The other issue I had was when someone else parked in my driveway and they had an oil leak. It killed the plants, but as oil does biodegrade, the vegetation came back only a little worse for wear (creeping thyme is hard to grow) in about two weeks. It still beats seeing an oil stain on your driveway!

Now the driveway is under a foot and a half of snow. With no car, I have no need to shovel it out. The effort of shovelling a green driveway is different than that of a standard one. For example, you cannot use salt, but neither do you have to go right down to the pavement. You shovel out the wheel tracks and path to the car doors and keep them even, but otherwise, if the snow packs and turns to ice, you put down sand or sawdust instead.

If you have a driveway that could stand converting over from hot and ugly old asphalt to something a little more cool and welcoming, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re looking for people to serve!

If you enjoyed this post, the mailing list will contain questions and answers and I will be most curious and happy to answer yours, especially if it will spread the word about how viable this project is.

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Rewilding is about converting your lawn to groundcover (bit by bit!) to native species. This fosters biodiversity. It also creates habitat for urban wildlife. Finally, you'll only trim it 2-3 times per season rather than every 7-10 days!

The green driveway gallery shows you how you can DIY a driveway conversation using my first model as an example. There are other ways to do it, and things I learned in the process and afterward. Please call me at 514-815-5163 for my landscaping service, or to discuss upgrading your driveway.

The work season is April 1st through June 30th, but I install bird strike prevention (to stop birds from crashing into windows and glass balconies) whenever the temperature is above 5ºC. Call the number above or email. It's important to do this earlier rather than later,  in time for bird migrations in late April to end of May, and late August to mid-October.


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