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Hi all!

I want to bring up the prospect of native gardening.

If you haven't read Nature's Best Hope, I recommend you do so. It's a great book that can be summed up in this quote:

...humans now occupy or have seriously altered nearly all of the spaces outside our parks and preserves. Each of us carries an inherent responsibility to preserve the quality of earth's ecosystems. When we leave the responsibility to a few experts (none of whom hold political office), the rest of us remain largely ignorant of earth stewardship and how to practice it. The conservation of Earth's resources, including its living biological systems, must become part of the everyday culture of us all, worldwide.

Native planting has become an obsession for me. I have a very small yard that I have spent the last two years (trying) to turn into a native prairie (local to my area).

I don't use herbicides or pesticides on my lawn. This year was the first year that wildflowers started to pop up along with all of the invasive. I've seen 10 monarchs already this year (after seeing none any previous years). My lawn is filled with birds eating the bugs in my poison-free yard. We've even had frogs and rabbits, something I've NEVER seen in my suburban neighborhood.

Every day during spring I rush outside. Unlike traditional gardens, native gardens change drastically every season as well as every year.

If you live somewhere like I do, the native plants and animals have lost almost every space that have left. My eco region is extremely small and narrow, and it's been almost completely replaced by urban sprawl.

Native plants host the very unique needs of the animals who depend on your ecoregion to survive. Whether that's birds or butterflies that are migrating and searching for food, reproducing, or trying to find shelter--all of that is largely dependent on giving them the native plants that they have evolved with over hundreds of years that have now been replaced.

It has been amazing learning about the natural history and plants and animals that make up my area. I have learned that there are less native prairies that there are rainforests, despite the ecological benefit being just as important.

The amount of life I have seen grown from what was once a half-dead lawn is amazing. I truly feel like I am making a difference. Yes it's small, but when you see all of the various forms of life that are making home in their natural space, it feels amazing.

Hi all! I want to bring up the prospect of native gardening. If you haven't read Nature's Best Hope, I recommend you do so. It's a great book that can be summed up in this quote: *...humans now occupy or have seriously altered nearly all of the spaces outside our parks and preserves. Each of us carries an inherent responsibility to preserve the quality of earth's ecosystems. When we leave the responsibility to a few experts (none of whom hold political office), the rest of us remain largely ignorant of earth stewardship and how to practice it. The conservation of Earth's resources, including its living biological systems, must become part of the everyday culture of us all, worldwide.* Native planting has become an obsession for me. I have a very small yard that I have spent the last two years (trying) to turn into a native prairie (local to my area). I don't use herbicides or pesticides on my lawn. This year was the first year that wildflowers started to pop up along with all of the invasive. I've seen 10 monarchs already this year (after seeing none any previous years). My lawn is filled with birds eating the bugs in my poison-free yard. We've even had frogs and rabbits, something I've NEVER seen in my suburban neighborhood. Every day during spring I rush outside. Unlike traditional gardens, native gardens change drastically every season as well as every year. If you live somewhere like I do, the native plants and animals have lost almost every space that have left. My eco region is extremely small and narrow, and it's been almost completely replaced by urban sprawl. Native plants host the very unique needs of the animals who depend on your ecoregion to survive. Whether that's birds or butterflies that are migrating and searching for food, reproducing, or trying to find shelter--all of that is largely dependent on giving them the native plants that they have evolved with over hundreds of years that have now been replaced. It has been amazing learning about the natural history and plants and animals that make up my area. I have learned that there are less native prairies that there are rainforests, despite the ecological benefit being just as important. The amount of life I have seen grown from what was once a half-dead lawn is amazing. I truly feel like I am making a difference. Yes it's small, but when you see all of the various forms of life that are making home in their natural space, it feels amazing.

26 comments

Love it πŸ˜€πŸ˜β€ I have a little yard. I can't do too much because I rent, and I'm moving soon. But I've planted perennials like milkweed (hey monarchs!!) and echinacea.

[–] [Deleted] 2 points (+2|-0)

That's great! Every bit helps!!

I'm a huge vegetable gardener. I plant flowers (seeds because I'd rather they just come back every year) to pollinate my vegetables. But, I mostly plant flowers to help the bees and the monarchs. They're my besties. I don't mow the clover in my yard so the bees have food 🀣

I wish I had a yard. I have a container garden and mostly have native wildflowers. Your place sounds wonderful. Actually, what I'd really like to do at some point is buy agricultural land and restore it using holistic management. Where I am there are a lot of grassy areas that should be grazed, not plowed or even no-tilled. I will check out that book.

Do you have problems with bylaws? Some places don't allow lawns to go wild, at least not on the street side of the house.

[–] [Deleted] 6 points (+6|-0)

I would like to do the same thing! I would actually really love to be able to buy land specifically for restoration--it's a plan for my future.

Container garden with native wildflowers is amazing! Give yourself credit. If everyone did what they could, we could make a big difference.

Also check out Planting in a Post Wild World and Garden Revolution.

[–] ThisReality 4 points (+4|-0)

I love this. I've spent years focusing on what's native to my area and planting those things. They're easier to take care of, because they're used to the environment.

I've also learned to make friends with weeds and to watch every year to see what comes up. I do some weed control, but I try to let seasonal plants have their moment even if I didn't plant them. Also, the bees like them.

[–] [Deleted] 4 points (+4|-0) Edited

Same! I catalogued all my weeds before trying to coax more native plants. Almost all of them are edible or serve some sort of medicinal purpose. I'm now aggressively weeding but only because I have creeping charlie which is invasive in my area. I wish it wasn't because it's actually really pretty with it's small purple/pink flowers.

If you don't have the app already, inaturalist has been the single best thing I have to ID plants. Even if it can't pick up the ID with whatever witchy algorithms it has, someone else will ID the plant for you. So many crazy weeds I've been able to ID that way when revere images didn't work.

[–] ThisReality 4 points (+4|-0)

I love iNaturalist. They also have an app, Seek, that can identify a lot of plants and animals just by pointing your camera at it. The app doesn't always find a specific identity though, but iNaturalist participants almost always do. I'm a fan of both.

[–] girl_undone 0 points (+0|-0)

Creeping Charlie is sold here as an annual. Came to find out it's not an annual.

[–] [Deleted] 0 points (+0|-0)

Oh my goodness...

On that note, I've found wood sorrel, which is thought of as a weed, to be on sale in the last 2 years for $8 a pot as an "indoor plant". I've genuinely replanted them in tin cans, as well as some other weeds--and have seriously considered selling lol. Maybe I can do that with the Charlie I pull up.

[–] Lolo 3 points (+3|-0)

Thank you for sharing! This reminds me, I once heard the biggest crop on earth was sod, ie lawns. I really wish what you're describing was more popular!

[–] Nasrin 2 points (+2|-0)

I love this and am also obsessed. I did this with my house (which I recently sold) for years and it really is shocking in terms of beauty and letting in the biodiversity of your region, even in the middle of the city.

I'm working on doing this. I have a small native plants bed out front I started last year, and this year am going to fill in with pollinator-friendly annuals around the perennials and see if some self-seeding can't happen. I have plans to expand it slowly as well, but right now my focus is on doubling my vegetable space and fixing the ailing area around behind. Since I do this all on my own, it is slow going. But yes, I do have allthewildlife. Sometimes at once.

[–] [Deleted] 0 points (+0|-0)

I'm going slowly too! I have a small patch of wildflower that I seeded in the fall and they are doing AMAZING. The rest is just weeds I've left to do their own thing. Slowly but surely I will expand. My next focus will be buying native grasses. to plant in late spring.

Most of my weeds are invasives, so I do not let them grow. Please be careful with that strategy in case it is the same where you are--poorly thought-out campaigns have convinced others here to do similar, and the result is not at all what people hoped. The invasive plants choke out natives, that is what makes them invasive.

[–] [Deleted] 1 points (+1|-0)

Understood, I do have invasives--namely creeping charlie that has taken over my entire neighborhood, which I pull out by hand.

I let most of the weeds stay, vetches and all the forms of dandelion.

Bermuda grass itself is an invasive--so it being replaced with various other invasive competing for the soil does not bother me a lot--although the crazy ones (like creeping charlie) I do try and get a hand on.

Thankfully, creeping charlie will die back as it heats up (I live with 100+ summers). Then I have crabgrass mostly and dandelions, if the other seasons can predict anything.

Sowing my wildflower seeds in the fall has worked amazingly well, with them establishing before anything else does and completely dominating the weeds. I plan on transplanting instead of sowing native grasses, as they grow during warm weather which would make it hard to compete with above mentioned weeds--this is the first year I'm adding grasses.

This is a a long project, I'm on year three. Each year I solarize a part of my lawn to kill grass and weeds as well as seed bank, Mulch, and that fall I sow, and repeat the next year. I am going slowly to both learn and not over extend myself. I'd say I'm as educated as I can be on restoring native prairie through books alone--it's experience I'm lacking and gaining.

In the meantime, I don't beat myself up too much about the weeds that spring up, although I do ID each and everyone and keep an eye on the invasives. This is the first year creeping charlie has taken over, before now it was various forms of wild lettuce and dandelion. It's actually been pretty interesting to see what weeds stabilize themselves each year as the lawn has learned to be with herbicide.

I think I do understand your point though--having a native lawn requires somewhat intensive management and a lot of learning that makes it seem relatively hard compared to typical lawns. The small, established prairie requires almost no management, but the act of transforming lawn into natives for sure is not as easy as just planting and letting it sit. It is going to be labor intensive the first 3 years at least, more likely 5. If I had simply thrown seeds onto my bermuda grass... I wouldn't have had any success.

But an established prairie will have very little issue with weeds/invasives once it is established. I am unsure about other ecoregion but that is true for me.

[–] hypatia 1 points (+1|-0)

I'm big into native plants. I got to help someone burn a prairie once and it made my year. I would love to be working with plants MORE, but I'm not sure if my current career path will lead me there.

For now, the plan is to buy a house and build a beautiful garden, like you are.

[–] [Deleted] 1 points (+1|-0)

Oh my gosh, I’m so jealous that you got to see a prairie burn.

I’m getting involved with my local chapter of native plants and am hoping my donations and time will lead me to seeing the same.

A garden of your own is amazing. Mine is extremely small, but it’s crazy how much life you can have in tiny spaces if you tend it correctly.

[–] girl_undone 1 points (+1|-0)

Your yard sounds wonderful!

Sometimes I let some parts of my grass go to seed and it's absolutely incredible how beautiful it is. I'm too scared of fire to let a lot of it go that way but I'm hoping I can have some large wild grass patches and maybe attract some birds that like that habitat to visit.

I've been trying to replace invasive plants with natives for a little while. I got rid of an invasive patch and found a ton of garbage buried underneath it that I've been cleaning up ever since. The end is finally in sight, I think.

[–] [Deleted] 1 points (+1|-0)

That's wonderful! I do not thing a dogmatic "everything has to be perfectly natural and native" is the way to go anyways. Having some lawn is okay! A lawn with little pockets of oasis is infinitely better than 99% of what we currently have. Plus, if your lawn looks nice (mine does not) it's easier to sell it to neighbors and friends!

I love this. I planted clover last year and will plant more this year. And when I go on walks I pick a dandelion head, one per walk, and blow it on my lawn. But I need to do more research on more native wildflowers.

[–] [Deleted] 1 points (+1|-0)

Dandelion leaves are more nutritious than spinach! Pick them while they are young and tender. Their roots can be made into a good, nutty tasting tea. And... my project this year, is wine made from their flowers (while still yellow!)

Almost all weeds serve a purpose.