The vernal equinox has just passed, and now it’s time to think about the garden in earnest. As we draw plans, dig the soil and pat seedlings into place, how many of us stop to think about the implications of how we garden, how we interact with nature? The choices we make can help or hinder the wildlife species that surround us at every moment, whether or not we’re aware of their presence.
For example, it’s known that many Canadian bird populations have declined by as much as 70% in the last 50 years. Protecting and supporting these species goes beyond decals on windows to prevent collisions. Consider our impact when we bulldoze whole neighbourhoods to remove natural growth and replace it with small, ornamental specimens or vast expanses of unadorned lawn.
There are mutual benefits in allowing nature to re-establish itself – even a little – in our yards. Native plants are low-maintenance, and invite in birds, bees, butterflies – important pollinators in our gardens – as well as small mammals. We can create more interest in our yards with houses for birds or bats that keep down insect pests. Even rocks serve a purpose, giving shelter to snakes that help keep slugs away from your lettuces. And any water feature whether a small pond or birdbath, can help soften our impact on wildlife.
There’s a growing movement to adopt permaculture techniques. These create different zones that mimic nature, and allow us to become producers instead of consumers. By supporting our co-tenants on this planet, we contribute to its overall health and enrich our own lives. I’ll leave you with this link to a great article on the Canadian Wildlife Federation website that offers more ideas. Happy gardening!
(photos from Creekside Commons Cohousing Community at http://creeksidecommons.net/)