Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Category: Ecology (page 1 of 2)

NPR’s Freakonomics podcast: How Stupid is Our Obsession with Lawns?

Do you hate mowing the lawn? I used to. We had a lawn that was half the size of a football field, and I spent many hours as a child, and lots of gasoline spilled, on that activity. Loads of gasoline spilled, actually. It kills the grass, but after a week or two, the grass comes back.

A friend just turned me on to last week’s Freakonomics podcast episode on America’s obsession with lawns. It has a lot of different points of view and recommendations on what to do differently; native species, alternative lawn care, and urban agriculture are some of the topics. Listen here:

http://www.wnyc.org/story/stupid-obsession-lawns

If you prefer to read an article instead, there’s 2013’s Outgrowing the Traditional Grass Lawn – Scientific American Blog Network.

The ideas we are trying to implement at Rewilding have been around a few years now. it takes time for people to accept and adapt. If you have a yard, please consider replacing it by turning into a meadow or something equally hospitable. We’ll help you. 

This blog post needs an update. There’s a lot of material that I’ve received from one of my resources, talking about lawn replacement initiatives. I’d pass some of it forward by email when I’ve attained enough subscribers to get the list going, so subscribe!

Plants for Birds – a native garden planning resource

Are you getting ready to plan your garden? If so, here’s a find! While its integration with local merchants doesn’t apply to Canadian gardeners (as we wouldn’t be able to shop and bring plants back across the border), we share some of the same Zones as the northern states (for example, Montreal is in Zone 5). As a Native Plants database cross-referenced with birds that enjoy those plants, it’s great research for making decisions — that migrating birds can then benefit from, as they pass through.

How to use it:

You have to enter your email address and a US zip code. Montreal is closest to Champlain, NY, so I looked it up at https://www.unitedstateszipcodes.org: 12919.

(Entering your details gives you direct access to the database, no need for a subscription confirmation.)

Armed with plant ideas and information (from all the pretty pictures!), we can then enquire at local nurseries, plan, and plant.

What’s one thing you can do today to help birds? Grow bird-friendly plants!

The Audubon Society launched a website called “Plants for Birds” that helps American gardeners find plants in their area that will encourage birds to visit and stay awhile. Source of photos: Plants for Birds.

male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

While we are talking about making gardens more welcoming to our friendly feathered friends, one of the best things you can do is install a water feature. A birdbath or a pond will always attract wildlife and insect pollinators (as well as mosquitos, if it’s standing water – so clean out the bird bath regularly). Here’s how you can make a simple bird bath, from the folks at Audubon:

How to Make a Birdbath | Audubon

 

If you found this post useful and would like to see a mailing list that announces other resources like it, get your email on the list! 

Once I have enough subscribers, I’ll start a newsletter for weeks between blog posts, with DIYs, Q&As, and more resource and event announcements.

Creating lawn habitat for the endangered Rusty-Patched Bumblebee

Bumblebees are important pollinators of native and fruiting crops, and Rusty-patched Bumblebees have been decimated by 90% of earlier population counts. They have finally been granted Endangered status in the United States. This article gives you all the details on the bumblebee and its status.

In one of the comments, a reader writes that people in the midwest can create habitat for the bees by ripping out their manicured lawns and creating meadow replacements with water features.

I highly agree.

Garden certification from Espace pour la vie

Hello, fellow wildlife gardener! Last year, I certified Big City Little Homestead’s garden as Wildlife-Friendly with the Canadian Wildlife Federation (you can too, and I’ll help!). Here’s the certificate I received:

The Montreal Botanical Garden “Espace pour la vie” offers a similar service, so I also registered my garden there. Here is where you can register your garden: http://espacepourlavie.ca/mon-jardin. Certification is annual, so you need to update your pictures every year, by October 15th. There are three themes for certification:

  • Biodiversity garden
  • Bird  garden
  • Monarch oasis

They have a map extension they call the “Gardenaut Gallery,” so that you can visit the photos that gardeners have submitted to the program – there are over 300 entries in all of Quebec!

My entry is here: http://espacepourlavie.ca/en/my-garden/big-city-little-homestead

(The image for my certificate is the feature for this post.)

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