Rewilding? Naturescaping? Whatever we call it, it’s impactful, and I’m about to tell you why. Maybe by the end of this post, we’ll have come to an agreement on just what word we should add to our vocabulary in regards to this project.
First off, I think we can all agree that suburban expansion has gotten wildly (pun intended) out of hand. Cities, big and small, are rapidly swallowing up countryside, woodlands, and countless valuable ecosystems. These neighborhoods almost all consist of lawns, a simple green space populated by typically only one, singular plant: grass.
But did you know that the general “lawn grasses” (and even some super common weeds) we’re all familiar with were imported to North America centuries ago? That’s right. Here in the U.S., the stuff you’re growing and mowing routinely is actually invasive. We could get into the entire history of lawns, which is actually quite interesting, but we’ve got work to do.
The term “rewilding” was recognized in the dictionary only eight years ago. It’s been described as “bringing your landscape closer to the natural world of your particular locale.” The word is pretty self explanatory too; it’s making our little pockets of land a little more wild, a little more friendly, and a lot more impactful. Put simply, we’re making nature natural again. It’s also the understanding of “how harmful some gardening practices can be.” It’s the chemicals, mainly the pesticides and herbicides, that will never come in contact with the meadow at any point. But as an added, personal bonus, it’s also the hours of gardening that will suddenly open up, allowing me to devote my time to other things. Rewilding extends beyond just letting our lawns revert to their natural forms, as it can be applied to fences, ditches, and other practices that separate wildlife from our yards and other public spaces.
This is not to say that our lawns and city parks aren’t viable ecosystems. They house ants, worms, fireflies, snakes, and so many other great species of fauna. But it’s a pretty limited ecosystem compared to what this project plans to produce. The basic game plan is as follows: native wildflowers and milkweed will be introduced, and weeds will be allowed but not given free reign. I fully understand that the plants we as a society have deemed “weeds” are quite territorial and could easily overpower the rest of the meadow, so I’ll pluck what I can and definitely prevent them from blooming and seeding my meadow. When complete, the abundance of flora should provide ample resources for all of the aforementioned species, while also giving pollinators plenty to enjoy.
This first little project will take place in a backyard between two garages. In actuality, ground zero will be a large flower bed ranging about 500 square feet. I understand that rewilding in a manicured neighborhood will likely raise some eyebrows. As private as my backyard might be, some complaints may arise. I look forward to them, though I understand that others who wish to attempt this kind of project might have some reservations. Those who are unaware of our cause may hold some judgement. But going forward, I plan to use this small meadow as a teaching tool. For my neighbors who may inquire or grumble, for my family who gets to watch this meadow take shape, and for all of you.
And I’m learning right alongside you, allowing nature to show me what I’ve been missing every time I’ve looked out my window at my backyard. And unselfishly, I’m excited to give back to nature what it so rightfully deserves. So we’ll nail down the term “rewilding” for now. I just had to add it to my computer’s dictionary. Someday, I hope that won’t be necessary.