Can You Help Save the World by Rewilding Your Backyard?
Saving the world is a pretty tall order to fill and none of us can do this all on our own. However, if enough people rewild a section of their backyard, we can make a better future for our planet, wildlife, and people, too. Of course, there are many problems that rewilding doesn’t address, but it’s a great start toward a better future.
How can you help the environment by rewilding your backyard or homestead? This is something I’ve been working on for years in every place I’ve lived and I’m happy to help you start on your path to rewilding!
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What is Rewilding?
Rewilding is the purposeful reintroduction of animal and plant species into a habitat from which they have disappeared to help increase biodiversity and return to a more natural ecosystem.
As humans have plowed up farmland, built subdivisions, and paved over fields for parking lots, we’ve reduced the natural habitat available for native species to survive and reproduce. Through our actions, we are inadvertently causing the extinction of insects, plants, and animals at an alarming rate. Although we need farms and homes, there are many ways we can increase habitat for native species with careful planning.
Why Rewild Our Backyard Homesteads?
It may seem like there is little we can do to help wildlife in a small urban or suburban lot. But with some thought and care, we really can turn our property into an oasis for at least some wild creatures!
Of course, it is important to pay attention to which species we are welcoming and how their arrival could affect our gardens, livestock, and children. In some areas, you’ll need to protect your family from large predators, such as bobcats, coyotes, and wolves. It is also important to keep livestock and pets safe and prevent damage to gardens from hungry rabbits and woodchucks.
However, there are ways to coexist peacefully and provide food, water, and habitat for many forms of wildlife, even on a small homestead.
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How to Rewild Your Backyard Homestead Safely
You’ll need to look at the space you have available, the wild species that need habitat and food sources in your area, and the potential problems that could arise from inviting them into your yard.
Unless you have huge tracts of land or live next to a wildlife preserve, you probably don’t need to worry about bears, bobcats, and other large predators. However, even urban areas can have resident foxes, coyotes, and owls. So take time to install the proper fencing and sturdy housing for your livestock and keep pets indoors when you can’t keep an eye on them.
For homeowners with small spaces, there is potential for planting small native species of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses to provide habitat and food for birds, insects, and other small creatures. A birdbath or fountain provides water for birds and a dish of wet sand gives butterflies a safe spot to rehydrate.
You may not want to host a family of foxes if you are worried about small pets and livestock but you can still invite birds and insects to your yard!
If you have space you could even put in a decorative pond with native species of water-loving plants. Not only will this add a peaceful water feature to your property, but you just might find that toads and frogs make your little pond their home!
Try adding flowers and woodland plants to your landscaping and watch for birds, pollinating insects, and small mammals that take up residence in your yard.
Non-Toxic and Natural Landscaping
Be sure that your yard is a healthy and natural space, not only for the wildlife you are encouraging but also for your family and pets. Here are some tips for making your property safe and sustainable for everyone:
- Eliminate toxic pesticides and herbicides
- Keep cats indoors to prevent them from killing birds
- Use drought-tolerant plants in areas with low rainfall
- Plant native species in place of modern hybrids
- Replace some of your lawn with low maintenance clover or other pollinator-friendly plants
- Provide a variety of habitats for native insects, birds, and animals
- Add birdhouses and nesting spots for wild birds to your yard
- Feed wildlife healthy foods to supplement natural food sources (Make Your Own Non-Toxic Hummingbird Nectar!)
- Eliminate invasive species of plants from your landscape
- Protect your chickens and livestock from foxes, raccoons, owls, and other wildlife by securing their coop and pen from predators
- Teach children to respect wildlife and never try to handle sick or injured creatures
- Place bird of prey silhouettes in windows to decrease bird deaths from flying into glass
Small Scale Rewilding is Possible!
You don’t have to live in the mountains to see wildlife in your backyard. For those who live in urban areas, you can plant nectar-producing flowers and herbs in pots on a patio or balcony for insects. Hang hummingbird feeders and bird feeders with sunflower seeds near a window so you can enjoy watching your feathered visitors. Place cut apples and oranges in a sunny spot for butterflies or keep a shallow dish of water available for migrating insects and birds.
Check with a local wildlife organization to find out what insects and animals need help in your area. They should have suggestions for native plants that will do well on your property. You may even wish to join Wild Ones or another group that helps people turn their yards into an oasis for plants, insects, and animals.
Even if you only have a few square feet of space to rewild for native species, you can give butterflies and birds a place to stop and refuel as they migrate to their summer or winter habitat.
Here are a few lovely and helpful plants to include in your landscape, depending on your space:
- Bee Balm
- Wild aster
- Ash trees
My Rewilding Efforts on One Acre
Here are a few things I am doing on my one-acre property to help native species:
- Leaving several wild areas where insects and animals can hibernate over winter
- Allowing native plants to colonize several areas of my yard
- Keeping raspberries, mulberries, black haw viburnum, serviceberry and other native fruiting species on my property for birds and other animals
- Providing feeders for hummingbirds, orioles, and seed-eating birds
- Leaving areas of the lawn to grow and provide habitat for lightning bugs and other insects
- Growing nectar-providing herbs and flowers in my garden for pollinators
- Filling shallow water dishes for birds and insects
- Keeping our homestead free from pesticides and herbicides
Although I don’t encourage foxes and coyotes to visit our homestead and make a meal of my chickens, I know that these creatures are only trying to exist in an area with shrinking resources. To prevent predation, I’ve increased the security of my livestock fencing and I make sure the chickens are locked up at night.
I hope that you will find some space in your landscaping and garden to provide food and habitat for pollinators, insects, birds, and animals!
Do you have wild areas in your yard for native species? Share your thoughts and feel free to ask questions in the comments!
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