Do you know what 'Permaculture' is? I am not a gardener but even to my remote reaches some gardening news occasionally arrives. A year or two ago, I heard a program on NPR (national public radio) about permaculture, which is gardening with nature rather than against it. Mostly what they discussed were things we already know such as that it isn't good to poison your yard with herbicides. It destroys the natural ecology of the soil and pesticides and weed killers damage important cycles in our own world, such as the weakening of the bee colonies (which we need for agriculture) and the killing of birds (who eat insects.) One thing I didn't know however was that this new fad for black licorice mulch is also damaging to our yards and our water supply. It is dyed black, for one thing, and the dye washes out into the soil and the drainage systems.
However, that wasn't my main topic for today. I received a small chart from a charity that I send small donations a couple of times a year with 13 good tips to create a homage backyard. I don't know about you but I LOVE having butterflies visit, and I enjoy watching my rabbit family, my birds, especially the cardinal family that frequents the yard, and I get a kick out of the ants of the squirrels. Also I adore the shade from my 18 old trees.
1. Provide water - a birdbath or small pond (and enjoy the action!)
2.Offer natural food sources, native plants to be specific (and in winter perhaps bird feeders)
3.Avoid lawn chemicsls: fertilizers, pestiides, herbicides (harmful to animals, pets, children, and our water supply)
4.Make large windows bird safe with stick-ons
5.Think outside the 'lawn box' Lots of gardeners are opting for wildflower meadows instead of the boring golf lawns of the past
6.Create a wild area or a brush pile for shelter
7.Plant for bees (do not fear them, leave them alone and they will leave you alone!)
8. Put up a bat house (For a couple of decades when our family got together in West Virginia, my parents' mountain retirement home, we would gather on the veranda at night to watch the bats swoop around the yard lamp. Their aerial stunts were astonishing.
9.If you have a backyard pool, secure it for the sake of children and animals.
10. SLOW DOWN - good advice for life in general but especially good for animals. If you are driving the residential speed limit of 25, you have time to brake for animals.
11. Create a safe outdoor space for your cats. I have a 'Catio" it is a 6 feet high chain link enclosure with chicken wire on top. There is a cat door in a window of my den, so the cats can go in and out at will. I have a few benches in the Catio and they go out to enjoy sunrise, sunny, and even to sit in the gentle rains. That way no birds have to die but the cats can enjoy some outdoor time. The Internet is full of attractive 'Catio' ideas. Check it out.
12. and 13. need further research at humane society.org - they include seasonal yard clean-up tips, and protecting your house from unwanted guests in a humane way (such as squirrels in the attic).
Needless to say a final tip was to please not litter. It is shocking to me to see how many water bottles, soda and beer cans litter the woods, and even the parks. If I were a coach, I would have my team 'police' the area after a practice and pick up their trash. Also I have noticed that fishermen seem especially prone to leaving their garbage in the form of bait containers and lunch bags and cans where they fish in the local parks. Teach your children to carry back what they carry out!
I am always pleased and proud to see how generally clean the parks are where I walk with my dog. Of course, we always scoop, it is fast and easy. I have doggy bag dispenser that clips on to my dog leash, so I always have bags on hand and as many people as I meet dog walking in our favorite park, I rarely see dog excrement left in the park. Most people are considerate of others.
Treat the world as if it were your home!