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!”

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.

Ecological landscaping, green driveway
We don’t need asphalt or concrete driveways. We just need level, attractive places to park. This one has the added and cooling benefit of water retention and yard space.

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 did these:

Mostly in order:

  • planted a tree in my front yard, for shade
  • put in flower beds and a vegetable garden
  • started growing vines (Virginia creeper, climbing hydrangea) on my walls
  • replaced most (not all!) of the grass in my yard with violets and other plants
  • use a rain barrel to irrigate my backyard
  • put in a system so the green driveway collects rainwater
  • hung bird feeders (and participated in FeederWatch and Big Backyard Bird Count)
  • put in bird-strike prevention on my windows
  • put up birdhouses
  • put up squirrel cabins. In fact, the squirrels live in their cabins most of the year
  • …and sat out front in an Adirondack chair in my driveway, which I’ve renamed “1 Elation Way” (I’ve since moved the chair into my Cowboy/Drag Queen-styled “porch-garage” in a project I’ve yet to write about)

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.

What Rewilding does

I wrote two things. I don’t know which I like more now. You choose.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?”

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-maintenanceconserves 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’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.

I aim to change perceptions and habits so that we use fewer resources, reducing our demand.

Does it work?

Yes, it does. I started writing about it 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 my other observations shared to the Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram (also: iNaturalist) backing up that it does work.

But if you have any doubts or questions, reach out. I will always answer questions.

One of the best side effects of putting nature back is the simply 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 (or he) most certainly can, but partnering with me will make it happen faster and create repeat business. I’m 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 the window washers at my company building. Why don’t they prevent bird strikes?”

Because they aren’t aware that of the scale of the problem. Some people are still dumb enough to think it’s the birds that are dumb and will evolve out of it. (Ummm, no. And birds are smarter than you think.) Most people 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 structural interference, and printed and wrapped patterns (even advertisements!) on building glass, and sometimes they’ve encountered ceramic “frit” that protects glass buildings from heat. There’s no better aesthetics than that which helps birds avoid crashing —rather than calling it “visual noise” as such, people will understand and accept it.

So with that said: do you really know the people who wash the windows your building? This is an opportunity for them to offer a service! Even if you don’t know them: talk to building management. Ask them to get the main-to-fourth storey windows retrofitted. And write to your city council so that they can implement a bylaw that puts some weight behind these retrofit requests.

“Do you sell bird strike prevention kits?”

I hope I will eventually! But you can make one kind, here.

I also make and sell standard and custom birdhouses and squirrel houses.

“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 find your inspiration for what you have now (the “Rewilding” and “Gardening” categories are only a place to start). Make notes of your ideas, sketch things out, and start to plan them. This can take as little as an hour or two to get going.

We’ll discuss what you have and what your ideas and needs are, and then I’ll come and do an estimate of what can be done with the outdoor space — and parking space — you’ve got.

«Pourquoi vous n’êtes pas en français?»

Bonjour! Vous avez raison, je suis tardée, et je suis désolé. Quand même, 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. Peut-être vous trouvez mes petits fauts orthographes ici un peu drôle, mais j’suis fier de n’utilisait pas Google Translate. Je parle un peu comme une franco-Ontarienne (ou juste quelqu’un avec un accent anglais). Mes services seront autant sympa qu’avec tout le monde, quand même.

“I want to know more about how rewilding is affecting our towns and cities. Can you help?”

I could. Whenever I “curate content” from elsewhere, I simply share it to our Facebook Page or Twitter account, and I share my own pics to Instagram (these links are in the footer). But if you want to know more, you’re the kind of person I want on my mailing list. I want to hear from you, so sign up, and tell me what you’re interested in.

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