Yards of the 21st Century

If you live in a house, you probably have at least a few square meters of green lawn somewhere beside it. Even if you aren’t obsessed with it yourself, at least one of your neighbors definitely is. An obsession that's no longer sustainable.

By now, I am sure you are aware that humans waste a lot of water. An average American household uses more than 1200 liters of water every day, 15% of which is used for watering the garden or lawns. A half of this water goes to waste, while another part is used solely to sustain green lawns that only aid the ongoing global decline of insects. Green lawns are biodiversity deserts that support nothing else besides themselves.

Times change. Things deemed sexy 100 years ago are no longer considered attractive today, and the same goes for lawns – they’re no longer interesting. But native biodiversity? Oh, baby! Gimme some of that!

How do we turn our gardens into the irresistibly biodiverse sites they are programmed to be? Short answer – space and time. Give them space and time to do whatever they want (need) to do. You’ll save money, water and the bees, which should be your motto when you take care of a garden. It is, however, important to observe what’s going on out there.

Of course, no one wants complete anarchy in their garden, so don’t be afraid to tend to it when you feel that you should. Instead of using weed killers, get rid of the uglies you can’t stand manually – direct physical contact is the bonding method anyway. Oh, and learn about the invasive plants that you should definitely consider removing, try using the iNaturalist app.

Native wildflower seeds are easily available in most gardening shops or online. It’s important to make sure they’re a selection of seeds that match your local diversity. Our birds and insects are adapted to pollinate and eat what’s been naturally available for thousands of years. Considering giving up at least a part of your garden to native pretties will bring many valuable results: creating a diverse menu for insects means creating a diverse menu for insectivores.

Got any pests you want remove? Befriend live pest control, such as ladybugs – make sure your garden is welcoming to insects.

When you want to mow, do it! Just make sure you leave at least 10 cm and that you don’t remove the clippings – they’re full of nutrients the soil could definitely use, don’t remove them! Denser and longer vegetation creates moist microclimate above the soil, so you won’t need to water so much. And if you want to mow even more, mow the leaves, too – this speeds up the process of breaking up and, again, is beneficial for the soil, just don’t remove them.

You can help your local bee diversity by mowing less often - perhaps every 2-3 weeks.

It is our duty, in the time of climate change, to do all we can to protect our environment. We can all start at home. Go to Healthy Yards (as the picture suggests) to learn more about what you can do.

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