Big City, Little Homestead

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

Category: Eco-Living (page 1 of 4)

Question: Would you want to countrify your city home?

Folks, you could be anywhere in the world and not have a specific service like mine or local resources to make your urban home have a real, rustic appeal (whether house, townhouse, triplex, or unit in a building) – or so you might imagine.

I just had a new idea and wondered if you would find it useful to have an e-booklet showing you different ideas and approaches to countrifying your city home. Do you want it to appear charming and actually be more rustic, wild, and wildlife-welcoming? If so, please sign up below. I’ll be making a note of whoever supports this idea. If we can generate enough interest, I’ll send you design and content questions along the way. Thanks!

The payoff from my green eco renovation — results you can see

A quick note to readers from outside Quebec: now that the dams are over 40 years old, our hydroelectricity is probably the cleanest in the world (this acknowledges that dams do produce GHGs and have negative environmental effects by flooding ecosystems).

Electricity is also very inexpensive for Quebec residents. We pay a low rate on the first 36 kWh per day and a premium on the remainder we use to incentivize us to conserve energy. This premium is usually applied in the winter. The premium is more than it used to be, which may be why we predominantly use electric heating.

This contextualizes the value of the kWh expressed in the article. Your mileage will vary depending on your own household energy mix; I hope it might encourage you to switch to non-petroleum/non-carbon-sourced energy for your needs.

Now that it’s been five years since I first published “Saving Electricity in Winter,” I thought it was time to do an update. After all, I’ve installed a pellet stove, added insulation to my attic, and gotten a new Ener-G-guide rating for my home through Quebec’s Reno-Climat program. I did this by participating in the Réno-Vert eco renovation scheme from Revenu Québec that assists home owners in making energy- and water-efficient upgrade to their homes.

Last year, I posted the following status update to Facebook to celebrate my results. (I’ve posted a lot of good stuff to FB that I should’ve posted here!)

Continue reading

How cracks in my asphalt driveway revolutionized my life

If you’ve been to this blog or my Facebook page at least once before, you’ve probably seen photos of my green driveway. They’re all over the place, like in the video here. And yet every year, just like several years before I put it in, some contractor dude who’s thinking “that ain’t right!” drops by with a card to “fix” it. (I can’t blame him for pounding the pavement looking for clients, but still…).

Sometimes he even jots a quote on the back as to how much it would cost me to rip out my green driveway and put down some blacktop asphalt driveway. You know, my green driveway cost a little more than what he’s quoting, because it was kinda fancy underneath, but I won’t have to “repair” the crack every five years like he wants me to. No, thank you.

I used to have an asphalt driveway. About the only thing you can do on an asphalt or concrete driveway that you can’t do on mine is play basketball. And maybe make chalk drawings, but you know, the city sidewalk’s right there, so that’s no biggie.

See, for a long time I had cracks in the driveway where plants would grow. That’s why they’d wanna “repair” it. But why would I let that bother me? Water percolating into the soil and being taken up by plants actually cools the air through transpiration.

“But frost heaves!” – it’s a driveway, not a highway; a little bump from a crack is not a problem.

“But bigger cracks!” More plants!

Why would I want black top + hot sun make my driveway and home hotter, rather than something cooling it down? Besides, when the plants were growing in the cracks in my driveway, guess what the bunnies’ favourite outdoor snacks were?

That’s right – CRACK SALAD!

Continue reading

Climbing vines on the shady side 

My house is almost famous for the green wall of vines I have growing on it – which you can see in on our Facebook page. Of all the neighbours, the only others who have vines are those on the end on a row, with a big wall to cover.

My Virginia creeper is now about six years old, and for two years, I also  let one climb out back, on the  shady eastern side. At the same time, I nabbed a real ivy plant and planted it in the same place, but I suspect that Virginia creeper inhibits other plants, as it failed to thrive.

This year, out back, I dug out the creeper and planted a climbing hydrangea in its place, as I wanted the flowers, and a climber that thrived in the shade. Little did I know, but it also released the ivy, which has since taken off.

It’s inspiring me for next year, where I’m going to remove the creeper from the front of my house (except the garage wall) and plant ivy in its place, because it spreads nicely and is less rambunctious.

It is not true that climbing plants damage your bricks. They help shade your home so that it’s cooler, they look nice, and they also give wild birds a place to hang out, and berries and insects to eat.

Older posts

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.


Sign up to the monthly newsletter. It'll have even more goodies than the blog (DIY, Q&A, and more!). Bonus: milkweed seeds. This perennial plant will attract bees and butterflies to your yard. 

%d bloggers like this: