Big City, Little Homestead

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

Category: Rewilding (page 1 of 3)

All articles that pertain to the BCLH service, “Rewilding” – green driveways, native plant landscaping, and bird protection.

Creating lawn habitat for endangered bumblebees

In April 2017, news got around about the first bee to land on the US endangered species list: Bombus affinis, commonly known as the Rusty Patched bumble bee. It has a, well, rusty patch on its back. It’s endemic to North America, which means its range is only North America – and not all parts, either. Rusty-patched bumblebees have been decimated nine times over – that’s 90% – from earlier population counts.

This article is a prelude to next week’s Pollinator Week, June 17–23, 2019, whereby I’ll be updating and sharing posts I’ve already written earlier about how we can help bees and butterflies (and maybe even bats). It’s timely, given my previous post on converting lawn to meadow, and how June’s a productive time in the garden where you can still get started! We need honeybees, bumblebees, and native pollinators to help us. So please help them.

Also — bumble bee, bumblebee — it doesn’t matter which one you use. So I use both!

Jane

Bumblebees are important pollinators of native and fruiting crops. In some crops, the flowers need the particular buzz of the bumblebee to shake the pollen loose – they aren’t going to give it up for just any old insect!

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Replacing your grass lawn with a meadow, or just allowing one to happen

Do you hate mowing the lawn? Holy cow, I used to. We had a lawn that was half the size of a football field, and I spent many hours doing it. It’s not a hobby. And loads of gasoline spilled, actually. It kills the grass, but the grass comes back after a week or two.

When I first published this post (in June, 2017), a friend just turned me on to the Freakonomics podcast episode about America’s “stupid” 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 at the link.

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I found a baby bird in distress. What do I do?

If you’ve been looking up at the tops of the trees, or watching neighbourhood feeders, you’ve noticed the flitting of unfamiliar birds, newly arriving on their spring migration. Or if you’ve been walking around with open ears, you’ve heard the sweet call of the robins and almost-raucous regular trill of the red-winged blackbirds. Spring has arrived and it’s in full swing. And so we must hone our attention on our surroundings (not a hard task!), while for some us, work begins.

The expansion of urban habitat and housing and mirrored buildings means only one thing to birds: imminent danger. There are three things we all need to take responsibility to do for birds, and this message is so old now that NOT doing something about it is delinquent.

(I just found out that free-standing houses cause 50% of bird strike deaths. Big buildings the other 50%. Not 20:80 or something that seems “more reasonable.” Your house and my house is deadly.)

Do what? The Top Three things to do are in an Audubon article (Fall of 2015):

  1. Put decals, tape, strings, or another form of “frit” on your windows – all windows reflecting trees within 5 storeys of the ground! – so that birds can see them and avoid crashing;
  2. Turn off building lights at night, and
  3. SPEAK UP about this to everyone who will listen, but building managers and city councils, especially!

I’ve written about bird crashes and the resources to prevent them before, and it’s also happened to me (this story has a good ending, and it’s instructive on what to do if you have a little window-crasher). One even happened to me last week, though I’m persuaded that the little bird was startled and survived:

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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!

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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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