The Ecosystem of the Garden
Your wildlife garden is an ecosystem of interconnected parts. Everything is connected when you create a welcoming habitat for wildlife, the priority of your garden.
It’s not just the birds and the blooms as two different subjects. It is that the birds are connected to the blooms, which are connected to the insects, which are connected to frogs, toads, and bats. It’s a food web, a chain of events that all work together to create a total system.
The Five Pillars of Ecosystem Gardening
1. Sustainable Landscaping
Sustainability may be one of the most overused words in the gardening world right now, and there are long wordy definitions to attempt to clarify it’s meaning. But I break it down into two areas:
- Manage your Inputs. A sustainable garden does not need all of those bags and bottles of stuff that you can find at the garden center.
- Manage your Outputs. A sustainable garden will work to eliminate outputs from your property, such as managing storm water on-site, and managing your yard waste on-site through composting.
2. Healthy Soil
Ever heard that adage, “Feed the Soil, not the Plant?” Healthy plants need healthy soil. And wildlife gardeners know that there is more wildlife beneath the soil than there is above the ground. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides destroy these soil organisms, and these organisms are responsible for keeping your soil healthy.
3. Water Conservation
I don’t know why we treat rain water as toxic waste to be rushed immediately off of our properties, but with good planning you can keep this valuable resource in your garden, reduce your water bills, and help stop flooding and stream bank erosion.
4. Remove Invasive Plants
Invasive plants are escaping from our gardens, and running rampant through our woodlands and natural areas. We as taxpayers pay $138 BILLION every year trying to control these species. These plants are destroying wildlife habitat, so we can make a big difference for wildlife in our gardens by removing these plants.
5. Add More Native Plants
Native plants support local food webs. We have the power to really help wildlife when we add more native plants to our gardens. Every state has a native plant society that can help you determine the most appropriate plants for your garden. And these wonderful people are a great resource, not only about the plants but also where you can find them close to you.
When we follow these five principles, we will automatically begin to see more wildlife in our gardens. If you’d like to know more about Ecosystem Gardening, I was just interviewed by Rachel Mathews of Successful Garden Design (Episode 10)