Rewilding is a bigger conservation movement. I address only one small bit of it, and this is a loooonnnnng article about that, so I’m giving you a table of contents so that you don’t have to go “tl;dr!”
Struggles and solution; why should you care?
Actions I took
What Rewilding does
Does it work?
My friend is a landscaper. Can she do this stuff too?
Why don’t window washers prevent bird strikes?
Do you sell bird strike prevention kits?
I want my yard and driveway to be nicer and greener, too. What should I do?
Where can I learn more…?
Pourquoi vous n’êtes pas en français? (Why aren’t you in French?)
Are you a Disney princess? You sound like a Disney princess.
Struggles and solution, or “why should I care?”
Hi there! I’m glad you’re checking this out – why I started Rewilding, and what it’s all about.
I became a townhouse owner in 2006. One of the things that I first saw when I visited the property was a nice backyard. When I was looking out a basement window, a squirrel ran under the deck, right at eye level. The backyard had a tall cedar tree, rose bushes, and a pond. I was sold! I wanted a garden that would be attractive and welcoming to me, my pets, my guests, and wildlife.
However, the property was devoid of personality in front. The previous owner wanted it to look unnoticeable, unremarkable (the neighbourhood used to be a little rough around the edges). But I wanted to have an urban farm, complete with chickens (not allowed)! So I scaled back that idea. I grow vegetables every year and my famous pet rabbits, Parker and Hervé, help keep the yard trim.
At first, I had to push back against neighbours who didn’t want change. I had unreasonable demands to not use my front yard for what I wanted. But suddenly, the urban agriculture movement caught on! Soon the borough was creating more green space. People were admiring my garden from the street, telling me “I always look forward to seeing what you’re gonna do.”
In spring 2015, I installed something I’d wanted since I saw them, widespread, in Denmark in 2009: a green driveway. It was a design of my own, with some inspiration I’d taken from a course in home renovation from Héritage Montréal (the course is no longer offered). It took a month of sporadic work to complete, but the results were instantaneous. Passersby, including a landscape architect specializing in golf courses, all exclaimed good thoughts about the style! And then, I waited one year to see how it held up under use and the seasons before I started offering to do the same for others.
Because if we’re going to repair some of the environmental damage we’ve done with urbanization, and be better prepared for a resilient future, we need to start managing our properties according to ecological principles. And that means ecological landscaping.
We live in a world where temperatures are rising, storm floods are getting bigger, and biodiversity is under heavy threat. 80% of species in Canada have declined to small fractions of what they were in 1970. We need to reverse this trend. And we, who live in the city, think we can do nothing.
We’re wrong. Biodiversity can THRIVE in cities if we change a few things and let it! And for our own comfort and security, we can even improve the times when it’s just too hot, or the rain too much, and make things better in our neighbourhoods.
That’s why I:
- planted a tree in my front yard, for shade
- started growing vines (Virginia creeper, Boston ivy, climbing hydrangea) on my walls
- replaced most (not all!) of the grass in my yard with violets and other plants
- put in flower beds and a vegetable garden
- put in a system so the green driveway collects rainwater
- use a rain barrel to irrigate my backyard
- sit in an Adirondack chair in my driveway, which I’ve renamed “1 Elation Way.”
If most people with outdoor space lived like this, we would have a higher Gross National Happiness. Because the fact is, it’s beautiful! It brings people a feeling of joy to be in natural surroundings. Especially so when they get to see butterflies, bats, birds, moths, squirrels, and other animals living their proper lives. We’re living in their territory, they should feel welcome by us actually being welcome.
This is why I hang bird feeders, put in bird-strike prevention on my window, and put up birdhouses, bat houses, and squirrel cabins. In fact, the squirrels live in their cabin here, year round.
What Rewilding does
I wrote two things. I don’t know which I like more now. You choose.
- Rewilding is a hands-on consultancy that works with property owners and landscaping companies. I design with beauty and biodiversity in mind, do the work, certify it with different agencies as bird- or wildlife-friendly, and follow up to ensure results.
- Rewilding offers a landscaping service that assures you of having a low resource impact and high environmental benefit while being attractive and enjoyable to you, your guests and neighbours, and the plants, animals, and insects that create our local biodiversity.
“Huh? What does that mean?”
That means I replace asphalt and such with green driveways that conserve water, eliminate salt, and look super-attractive from the street – expanding your yard and garden.
I do native plant landscaping and replace lawns, so it’s low-maintenance, conserves water and provides a good basis for biodiversity.
Native plants mean plants that would live here if our houses and pavement were not here; plants that can be found elsewhere in Quebec.
They provide food and shelter to countless insects and birds whose populations aren’t what they use to be since we (city residents) moved in.
I aim to change perceptions and habits so that we use fewer resources, reducing our demand.
Finally, I’ll do what it takes to address killing birds that live and migrate through our cities twice a year, by installing bird-strike prevention on windows.
Does it work?
Yes, it does. The blog that this page is part of, Big City Little Homestead, is how I’ve lived my life ever since I moved in more than 10 years ago, but started writing about in 2011. I wrote only to share my values and projects and their results before I realized that I could help other people do the same. You’ll find many blog posts and observations I’ve shared to the Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram backing up that it does work.
But if you have any doubts or questions, you’re welcome to comment on any blog or social media post, or subscribe to my list and reach me by way of reply. I will always answer questions.
One of the best side effects of putting nature back is the feeling of peace and happiness one gets from being in the centre of a green space. On top of that, it increases property values, retains tenants for longer, can lower energy costs, and other long-term financial benefits.
“My friend is a landscaper. Can she do this stuff too?
She most certainly can, but partnering with me will make it happen faster and create repeat business. I am actively looking for partners to do this work, and I really want to spread the word and make these practices go viral. Because, you know, they help create #theworldweneed.
“I know people who wash windows at my company building. Why don’t they prevent bird strikes?”
Because they are not aware that bird strikes are a problem that kill many (hundreds) of thousands of birds per year. Most don’t know that the problem is particularly bad when the reflection is of trees, or when the building leaves its lights on all night. Most aren’t even aware that this is a preventable problem.
People have become used to the aesthetics of lighting and advertisements on building glass, and moreover, they’ve encountered other “visual noise” such as heat-protecting ceramic frit. There’s no better aesthetics than that which helps birds avoid crashing – people will understand and accept it.
So with that said: do you really know the people who wash the windows your building? I want to make a partnership with them! Contact me here.
“Do you sell bird strike prevention kits?”
I hope I will eventually! I also make and sell birdhouses, bat houses, and squirrel houses. I also sell milkweed seeds, to support Monarch butterflies.
“I want my yard and driveway to be nicer and greener, too. What should I do?”
Good instinct! I have a two-prong approach. The first is read the blog, particularly the “Rewilding” and “Gardening” categories, and find your inspiration for what you have now. Sketch things out, make notes of your ideas, and even start to implement them. This can take as little as an hour or two to get going.
And then, call me. (514) 815-8163. We’ll discuss what you have and what your needs are, and then I’ll come and do an estimate of what I can do with the outdoor space – and parking space – you’ve got.
“I want to know more about how rewilding is affecting our towns and cities. Can you help?”
Yes. You’re the kind of person I want on my mailing list (scrolling any page should trigger the subscription form). Now, it’s not the normal kind of mailing list where you get newsletters every week or month. If I “curate content,” I simply share it to our Facebook Page or Twitter account, and I share my own pics to Instagram (click through the pic of me, above). But I want to hear from you, so sign up, and tell me you’re interested in a rewilding kind of movement, or whatever you like. The mailing list lets me get to know you, tell you about events, ask you questions, and maybe generate ideas about blog posts I can write and services I can offer.
«Pourquoi vous n’êtes pas en français?»
Bonjour! Vous avez raison, je suis désolé. Je peux vous rendre service en français, avec plaisir. Mais tous les entreprises doivent commencer petite pour se rendre grand, et d’abord, je veux verifier mon offre des services, mes processus, et mes forces de marketing avant que je roule toute en français. Probablement tu trouvera mes petits fauts orthographes ici un peu drôle, mais j’suis fier de n’utilise aucun Google Translate. Je parle un peu comme une franco-Ontarienne (ou juste avec un accent anglais). Mes services seront autant sympa qu’avec tout le monde ou n’importe de qui, quand même.
“Are you a Disney princess? You sound like a Disney princess.”
LOL. Well, almost. I’m a Guernsey Princess. Metro-Highlands, 1991. I can see a resemblance to Cinderella, Snow White, and Giselle from Enchanted. In the meantime, I’ll whistle while I work.