Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Category: Rewilding (page 2 of 3)

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

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.

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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