Let's talk about Lawn Culture. I was reading a whole thing on Tumblr about lawnmower culture that I found interesting. Here's a bit of a summary.
"Lawns started as a trend of the French monarchy. It exists purely as a status symbol showing that the owner has excess land that they don't need for anything productive. They spend money maintaining it to show off.
Back in the 1950s and 60s in Australia when they started getting large waves of Southern European migrants, one thing the new settlers would often do is buy a little suburban home, then tear out the ornamental flower beds and lawn and useless trees. Then they would plant fruits, vegetables, grapes and even olives. It was considered scandalous by their Anglo-Saxon neighbors because lawn was considered an aspirational thing and the ideal was to go from not needing a kitchen garden to having an ornamental garden to show how well you were doing.
Lawns cause a lot of habitat fragmentation for local wildlife and plants, which has added the the decline of biodiversity and populations of important critters like bees."
(from the segments added by selfiegoth, turtletot43, whitefriartuck, and lepidosauria)
There are not as many kids playing outside these days and honestly, kids would love to interact with the real nature. so why not rewild your lawn?
First, here's a couple reasons why you should!
-promotes healthier ecosystem and local wildlife
-improves the soil. Lawn grass has very shallow roots, native species have long roots that will keep the soil from shifting AND prevent flooding
-saves water. You really wouldn't have to water your lawn anymore, which also saves you money
-reduce greenhouse emissions. more biodiversity in plants means they use more carbon dioxide in the air and promote healthier air for us to breath
-saves more money, you don't need to use fertilizers or pesticides which is more sustainable and protects sensitive species
Alright, now you see the benefit right? Not everyone can just tear up their grass and throw seeds down. Some of us rent and have little to no control over the lawn. You can still start small.
Things you can do if you rent:
Provide water. This can be as simple as a bird bath or a bee waterer. But you can also make a mini pond in a container! Water brings all sorts of wildlife if you set it up right.
Educate yourself. This probably should be first. Some may think that just not mowing will rewild your lawn automatically. It doesn't. The grass used in lawns is a rye-grass. Not great for wildlife. And because there is only one type of plant, there isn't an actual habitat for critters.
Stop using fertilizers and pesticides. If you do control that, stop.
Plant native species in planters anywhere you can! Maybe you can't actually plant in the ground and maybe you can. Stick with native species and perennials and you are good to go.
If you own your home, you can do so much more!
Create a water feature (in ground). This will provide birds drink and a way to keep their feathers clean. You'll start to see more than birds too. Mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects like dragonflies (great for keeping mosquitos in check) will start to appear!
Leave your lawn clippings and sticks where they are. Dead plants provide a place for small critters to hide and live.
Plant native species. Look up some of the native plants from your area and find some seeds of those.
Build a bug house, a bat house, or make a pile of sticks to create homes for some creatures.
Turn off your outdoor lights. It messes with the natural cycles of insects and animals alike. Some require absolute darkness for a big part of their life.
If you still want a play area where you can easily see your kids, consider grass alternatives. Like moss, creeping thyme, native grasses, speedwell, Dutch white clover, sedum, calex, bugleweed, liriope, chamomile, creeping phlox, or a mixture of these!
Is it worth re-wilding on such a small scale? Absolutely. even pockets of a habitat can help to save species and improve the overall health of the area, the planet, and even you.
Here's an excerpt from an article by Elizabeth Waddington; Writer, Permaculture Designer, Sustainability Consultant:
In the modern world, there is a tragic disconnect between people and nature. Many studies have shown that human health and wellbeing suffers as a result. Bringing truly natural and "wild" systems into our gardens and our lives means re-taking our place not as something separate from the natural world around us, but as part of the whole.
A wild garden ecosystem helps us recognize the wonders of the natural world. It helps us to feel at peace, grounded, healthy, and happy. When we see such rewilded systems up close, filled with native plant and animal species, we can derive many benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing."
In our own little way, The Little Arkis has been trying to do the same. If you follow @theothershoppekeeper on Instagram, you may have seen me post about EcoDrive.
EcoDrive partners with businesses to restore habitats in various areas. How it works is pretty simple. For every sale we have, we give them the money to plant one tree. As of right now, the habitat we are funding is a Mangrove area in Kenya.
Go to the link at the bottom of the main site page, it will take you to our landing page on EcoDrive where you can see more details about the Kenya project as well as others you can donate to without buying from us.
We are proud to participate in this program and look forward to more local opportunities to serve the environment in the future.