docmom_mn_zone_5

What more can we do to preserve wildlife?

docmom_gw
9 months ago

My brother is an entomologist and teaches environmental conservation at a large university. We speak often of the declining insect populations, and he recently expressed frustration at the lack of general knowledge re the state of the environment. I am trying to do my small part to convert my personal space into a welcoming, safe place for wildlife. But, it saddens me to see how much wasted space there is all around us that could/should be used to bolster our shrinking wild spaces.


How do each of you approach this subject? At my previous job, I was able to install a small pollinator garden. It was at the edge of the parking lot, and I put up signs to inform others of its purpose. I hope it increased awareness of options for at least some of the people who park there.


My new job is in a suburban building surrounded by a huge lawn. My organization rents the space, so we can’t do anything we want with the property. I could approach the owners for permission to make changes, but I don’t have the time or resources to maintain more than my own 2+ acres. I really am afraid for our planet and what will be left for my grandkids. I even toy with the idea of dropping everything to become an environmental activist. But, that would limit my financial resources and personal options even more than they already are.


Thoughts?


Martha

Comments (35)

  • four (9B near 9A)
    9 months ago

    Donate money and/or expertise to land conservation trust organizations, active ones that intend to acquire more land. Other readers may be informed to some extent (I not at all).

  • Related Discussions

    How do we relocate the upstairs? What do we look for the best place to relocate the upstairs?

    Q

    Comments (6)
    You need to find out which way the ceiling joist go. side to side? front to back? The wall that is parallel to the ceilings wood holding up the ceiling can be taken out without worry if this is a single story area above.. On the perpendicular wall you may need to run a beam to replace the walls support, but the space that is open already can have the bottom section taken out with out effecting the structure. You will need an electrician to pull back or relocate the elec. service in the walls.
    ...See More

    What is this brick thing and what can we do about it?

    Q

    Comments (42)
    If it was a hot tub base it has water to it so that should be able to work for new irrigation or a fountain. You can't use it for a firepit if it has no gas to it ... and that would be one mighty large firepit. I might take it out and put in a paving artwork. If you need a landscape designer I'm located in the Los Angeles are and am able to help with your landscape design questions.
    ...See More

    What can i do with this long & narrow kitchen? Can we do open concept?

    Q

    Comments (8)
    Hello lasmar1, You have enormous potential to update your home in to an open floor plan. I have found that with most of my clients deciding on their major goals for a remodel is the best place to start, followed by the style they want and their budget in order to achieve their goals. My suggestion would be for you to follow these same basic guidelines. "If" however, you've already decided that you do want an open floor plan with a great room design and in a contemporary style your next step would be to establish your budget. Once you have that you can get down to specific aspects and features you want in your home, such as, flooring, cabinets, appliances, colors, etc. You've mentioned several areas of concern in your post but I assure you an open floor plan with the features you've listed is very doable based on the photos you've attached. My suggestion would be for you to contact a local architect or designer you would feel comfortable with that can asses your existing floor plan and advise you on the best way for you to achieve your goals. I'd be happy to answer any additional questions you may have. Best of luck on your fabulous project. Jerome
    ...See More

    OUR family room feels like a lobby! How do we make it more friendly??

    Q

    Comments (43)
    Amber, I love the sectional you're looking at, and I understand the need for comfortable chairs! At our house, we're all about comfort, too. Here are a few more swivel chair options. I found that if you search for "leather swivel chairs", I found more than searching "leather chairs" and hoping to find one that swivels. Hopefully that will help some. Crate & Barrell have a few leather swivel options - http://www.crateandbarrel.com/zoe-leather-swivel-chair/s251801?a=1552&device=c&network=g&matchtype=&gclid=CjgKEAjw2KCcBRCQ_6mztcunhEgSJABPxOF1pq389H5cZCHXrhk3RkQyfjlNWBOZtthvbWj2rcsDrPD_BwE There are also a few others I found by google search - http://www.theinteriorgallery.com/pd-celestino.cfm?gclid=CjgKEAjw2KCcBRCQ_6mztcunhEgSJABPxOF1euGON5YnBsFLh95DGkPEOJMfaesydd9XEK8nVz4p8vD_BwE http://www.homeclick.com/global-furniture-ac1500-swivel-chair/p-632693.aspx?option=Camel&chnl=cse&ven=google&cam=Global%20Furniture&kw=AC1500CM-CH&mr:referralID=bf76a32c-e803-11e3-83e2-001b2166c62d&gclid=CjgKEAjw2KCcBRCQ_6mztcunhEgSJABPxOF1mCu1waDyk-ouH4hOepABZmNFCGkROuJWydH0Y03GQ_D_BwE#. http://www.hayneedle.com/product/emeraldhomegarrettcreamswivelgliderrecliner.cfm
    ...See More
  • docmom_gw
    Original Author
    9 months ago

    Floral,

    That is an excellent observation. I think many Americans have a picture of themselves and/or their children and grandchildren romping merrily on the lawn, playing with balls or frisbees, etc. In reality, they spend the majority of their time on the lawn mowing, trimming, watering, and spreading chemicals. Unfortunately, it is a firmly entrenched societal norm that is reinforced by municipal policies that dictate the height of our grass and require careful control of “weeds” and other plant growth. Neighbors complain about other peoples’ messy” yards to the local authorities if they don’t conform to strict expectations. How to change such a deeply held aesthetic, I don’t know.


    Martha


    Martha

  • kitasei
    9 months ago

    Maybe we can brainstorm some specific suggestions for you. Describe the property and how it is maintained. By one tenant (your employer) or a management company? How are leaves collected and what happens to them? Does the building recycle? Organic waste? Drainage in paved areas? Is any outdoor space used by employees, to eat or for recreation? Maybe you can come up with a plan to pitch that makes the workplace more appealing and economical.

  • Skip1909
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    In my town, which is sort of at the interface of suburban and agricultural, and the seat of the county, and full of wealthy professionals and NYC commuters, and rampant "development", all grass must be cut to a certain height and "brush" maintained within 20ft of the curb or whatever. Big lawns and mcmansions abound, but there is a loophole to those requirements in there that says "except for ornamental plantings". Therein is the opportunity to install more native plants, it just has to be done artfully, or at worst inconspicuously.

    In Planting in a Post Wild World, the authors lay out the need for clarity and structure around "natural" type plantings. Restraining the plant palette (within one planting), "intentional" placement of larger long lived plants that anchor the design, and intentional-looking patterns and drifts of plants. All the little things in between like annuals and ground covers, can be a little more spontaneous. In other writings, Doug Tallamy points to the need for maintenance "cues", so people know that a patch of tall grass and wildflowers is not just a feral patch of weeds. This could be achieved by maintaining a grassy lawn strip or a nice path or edging around the planting. This is also where invasive species management and general weed management need to be practiced.


    "Many people equate native landscaping with a total lack of planning, where the property is just left to go wild. We can combat this misconception by designing artful landscapes that will differ from traditional landscape designs in only three ways: they will have less lawn, with more plants in total, and more of those plants will be the powerhouse species that drive food webs and support pollinators." -Doug Tallamy, Natures Best Hope


    There is a need to communicate the issues to the public, to our neighbors, and offer solutions that they can do themselves, like wintersowing native seeds and planting them in their yards, which is cheap and easy. Most people do not know there is a decline in birds and insects, and that these creatures are an indicator that the wider environment is in trouble.

    At this point I think people who care about these issues need to go to city council meetings, zoning board meetings, get on HOA boads, push our public servants to revise ordinances and management strategies, and raise the issues when somebody is trying to clear out a woodland for another stripmall, or spray nerve gas to kill all the mosquitoes. Bring 3 or 4 points with you to outline the problem and causes, for example:

    •3 billion fewer birds compared to 1970 •90% decline in insects •Surface area 4x larger than the state of New Jersey currently paved in lower 48 •Land area the size of New England currently kept in lawn in lower 48 •unsustainable resource use dedicated to lawn (fuel for lawn equipment, pesticides, fertilizers, water) •environmental damage from pesticide and fertilizer runoff


    Define objectives for landscape:

    •Support diverse food webs that contain both herbivores and their natural enemies
    •Support both generalist and specialist pollinators
    •Manage watersheds
    •Store as much carbon as possible in plants and soils.


    If we can't halt construction perhaps we can get concessions to require developers to meet these objectives with their landscapes. And these objectives cannot be met without native plants, larger gardens and layered plantings.

    Other ways to act, are by joining groups like the NJ League of Conservation Voters. Just vote on one local environmental petition on change.org and you will probably be contacted by these groups. I am probably going to start posting landscape, pollinator, and plant pics on social media, and sharing some of the informative posts from the groups I am on. Despite all the chaos in our political system, social media is somehow still the only news source for a lot of people, and that is where those people can be reached.

  • mxk3
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    "At this point I think people who care about these issues need to go to city council meetings, zoning board meetings, get on HOA boads, push our public servants to revise ordinances and management strategies, and raise the issues when somebody is trying to clear out a woodland for another stripmall, or spray nerve gas to kill all the mosquitoes."

    ^^ This. Get involved at the local level to influence municipal planning. When I moved here, I was shocked (in a good way) at how vocal people in my community are about protecting open spaces, the rural environment, and keeping the township beholden to the master plan they developed (e.g. minimum lot acreage but still developers want to get variances --> planning meetings are standing room only and our commissioners are TOUGH on this sort of BS).

    But, that is my area -- a seemingly mere speck of dust in our state and likely an anomaly (but hopefully not...). Frankly, I think the solutions lie with the younger generation, here's where you see the real activism about the environment and climate change -- they're smart and not afraid to push back against the norm and the ones who will (and are) starting companies that don't put the almighty dollar above everything else and will take action to preserve the environment rather than sacrifice it for a profit. Sorry to say, that's not my Gen-X generation, it's *us* and the generations before us that sh*tted everything up including the esteemed Baby Boomers and Silent Generation (although it started long before that with the industrial revolution).

    I also agree with Skip about educating others. Not in a preachy way, but in the spirit of helpfulness, understanding that a lot of people just don't know any better. Yes, "natural" plantings conjure images of weedy, overgrown messes, but it doesn't have to be that way. Need some shrubs? What about native serviceberry or winterberry holly? Need a screen? Wow, you always comment how much you like my ornamental grasses, why don't you try those? I take the approach of sprinkling in the benefits along with the suggestions or during the course of discussion.

    And, importantly, I try to set an example -- although I don't plant 100% natives or 100% for the benefit of the wildlife/insects, I do a heck of a lot with that in mind and my plantings have an aesthetic that are reflective of me but are congruent with my house and the land, it's not a messy hodge-podge.

  • mxk3
    8 months ago

    Bumping. I'm kind of surprised this post hasn't generated more replies -- anyone else have any thoughts?

  • perennialfan275
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Obviously it's not feasible now, but I would go to town/city meetings if possible. A lot of people like butterflies, but they don't know what to do (or are refusing) to help them. We need to raise awareness on these issues. The best way to do this is to talk about it at events where a lot of people will be. Perhaps someone can be a guest speaker at a school. Kids should also be made aware of the issue. It will be their job to take care of these beautiful creatures when we're gone. Talking about the issue on social media will also help (facebook/instagram, reddit, etc). Honestly I feel like talking is the best thing we can do. Raise awareness of the issues. Get people to care.

  • mxk3
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    ^^ Crown Bees seems to be doing a good job at this type of thing in relation to mason bees. I have a couple of mason bee houses on my property, but I've been tempted to order some of the inexpensive tubes and put them out in the woods behind me -- more so that other people walking on the trails back there will be curious and check out the website to learn more (you register the next and slap the sticker on it). Here's a link if anyone wants to check out the native bee network:

    https://crownbees.com/native-bee-network-overview

    The have a good learning section of the website, too.

  • four (9B near 9A)
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    True at the highest conceptual level (viewing the planet as a whole). However, it is not the most reproductive who do the bulk of the damage, because they lack the means to do it. Longterm efforts towards environmental protection would best target the affluent [global sense] youngsters; they ascend into ownership /control of the means to do the most damage.

  • mxk3
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Well, alrighty then...this thread went way out there...

    Although, I do agree with you -- there's too many people in the world. Period. People are being kept alive who shouldn't be - modern medicine at its "finest", and the populations who can least afford it keep reproducing like jackrabbits. Not just in third-world countries, but here in the West, too.

    But yea -- not stuff we can solve on the gardening boards, so maybe a good idea to get back to the gardening and wildlife preservation aspect. We can all do better in our own little slice of the world to make it a better place.

  • kitasei
    8 months ago

    I had to look at the date of the OP because it was from another world. I have not been off my own property for two weeks! I know of no one going to an office anymore. Ironically, I was just talking to someone in Florida who said she noticed the birds going wild. Here too in my NY! Are they rejoicing at the quiet? The cleaner air??

  • four (9B near 9A)
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Here (Florida, suburbia) the usual anti-quiet. Mowers, edgers, weed eaters, grass clipping blowers, driveway pressure washers.

  • kitasei
    8 months ago

    I was responding to your musing about what we might do about encouraging wildlife in places like our offices.. I’m now completely cut off from the world beyond my driveway. For now that is! Too bad about the landscaping noise, four. Think of it as the music of work, of money changing hands?! My friend in Sarasota was describing the welcome disappearance of traffic.

  • four (9B near 9A)
    8 months ago

    Think of combusted petroleum in the air as money changing hands.

  • kitasei
    8 months ago

    There was no intention to be dismissive. Sorry if that’s how it seemed.

  • mxk3
    8 months ago

    Alenm3 -- I think you directed your comment re: condescending at me, and I'm sorry if you took my post that way, that was not my intent. The reason I posted what I did is because the gardening forums on Hz tend to be quiet -- meaning civil, polite, and helpful -- unlike some forums like Hot Topics. What you posted (and again -- what I happen to agree about) has great potential to blow up into an inflammatory post if it turns into a debate, and that's certainly what I would hate to see on the gardening side of things. For a lot of us, gardening is our sanctuary -- don't want it to be tainted with harsh words and hurt feelings, this just isn't the place for that.

  • Skip1909
    8 months ago

    This thread should have been cross posted to the landscape design forum, where the "Pros" are having a physical impact out in the world over a larger area every single day. I know you don't want controversy, but these people should be involved in the discussion.

  • mxk3
    8 months ago

    "Please refrain from telling me how to think or what not to say."


    Yet, that is exactly what you are doing to me...

  • docmom_gw
    Original Author
    8 months ago

    Everyone,

    I appreciate absolutely everyone’s responses. And none of us is wrong, and none of us has it all figured out. The number of human beings on our planet certainly has a devastating impact on Earth. I am also painfully aware of modern medicine’s focus on extending life far beyond the time many souls should have transferred to the next stage.

    I have been doing tons of reading on permaculture vs traditional mass-crop farming. I think there is reason to be very hopeful, if only we could focus on more locally grown and diverse land management. Close observation of (and reproduction of) how nature evolved to produce and support an entire complex food chain could improve yields and minimize use of chemicals and fossil fuels. It could also restore some of the cultural values of co-dependent, supportive communities. I could go on for pages.

    Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful and passionate input. Continued dialogue is vital to moving forward.

    Love to all,

    Martha

  • mxk3
    8 months ago

    I have noticed barer seed racks this year, and some of the seed houses have messages re: delays in shipping due to high demand. I see that as a positive -- maybe a good thing to come out of this COVID disaster is more people being spurred to get into gardening/food growing, once the proverbial bug bites they'll be hooked and start having their eyes opened to what's going on in the natural environment around them. Especially if kids get involved -- they just soak it all in with wonderment and hopefully it will stick with them when then are adults.

  • Duffy Meadows
    5 months ago

    Keep talking about it and providing an example. We are on year 4 of a 12 acre prairie restoration and a clean up of over 40 years of debris and garbage (and so much barbed wire!) We have seen the amount of insect life explode. So many different types of bees and butterflies and way more plant diversity.


    I think some of the responses here are right though about people not wanting messy lawns and native plants are foreign to a lot of people. It’s been a scary and expensive process for us, but every year is getting better and we eventually hope to have our own native plant nursery.


    Here is our progress at year 3 https://duffymeadows.com/2019/07/24/native-prairie-restoration-years-1-3/


    We will post and update of year 4 in the fall.

  • docmom_gw
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    We purchased an old farmhouse on 2+ acres in January. I have now planted a strawberry bed, asparagus, raspberries, blueberries, hazelnuts, blackberries, boysenberries, plum, elderberries, and have seedlings of countless native wildflowers. The property already had mulberry, highbush cranberry, black walnut, maples, hackberry, catalpa, wild cherry, and copious patches of white clover. We have left much of the back parts of the property unmowed, to provide cover for wildlife. So, the pollinators should do well. There is a large-scale honeybee operation on our block, so they are by far the most numerous. Just this week I began to see swallowtails and one monarch butterfly today. Hopefully, insects will continue to increase in number and diversity.


    Everyone keep doing what you can,


    Martha

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    5 months ago

    hey!!!!


    what happened with the new house and stuff ... ken

  • loris
    5 months ago

    It doesn't have that much impact, but when people discuss new plantings with me I try to lead people towards native plants that will appeal to them if they're not into natives. Two examples are Cercis canadensis (Redbud tree) and Asclepius tuberosa (butterfly weed) which i think most people find beautiful. I also warn them if they're planting an invasive and try to come up with a better solution. This mostly happened at work where people knew I was into gardening.

  • docmom_gw
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    Ken,

    All the plantings mentioned in my last post were part of the investment in the new house. I love my new yard, and have long term plans to develop a mixed food forest and wildlife habitat. But, the pandemic has been a huge professional and financial challenge. I am working on smothering current grasses and weeds to enable fall planting of wintersown natives.

    Martha

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    5 months ago

    i dont think your post was there.. when i asked ...else.. why would i have asked.. eh???


    ken

  • four (9B near 9A)
    5 months ago

    Ken (and everyone), the posting probably was among the mess that Houzz has started to make in the postings sequence. Sometimes in reverse order (ostensibly switchable, but does not work). Other times (not usually) in the order to which we are accustomed. Often scrambled.

  • mxk3
    5 months ago

    Thanks for link Duffy Meadows -- I enjoyed reading it. Keep us posted as to how it goes this year!

  • docmom_gw
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    Duffy Meadows,

    What a frustrating process! Yet, it looks really beautiful, finally. The increased insect diversity is proof that you’ve halted the destruction that had occurred and your 12 acres will continue to improve as the years go by.

    I recognize that not everyone could tolerate the appearance or work involved in creating a “prairie” on their property. But, native plants can be incorporated into more traditional flower beds and landscaping, and tend to require less coddling than the exotic imports that have become the “acceptable “ plant selections. And even a small corner of native plants, within a larger “traditional” yard, can support crucial pollinators. I am preparing typical flower beds that will contain natives plants, and hopefully they will show how natives can fulfill the niches that have been filled by non-natives. I will try to take photos as they progress.

    Martha

  • mxk3
    5 months ago

    Piggybacking off Martha's post, don't forget about the native shrubs too - serviceberry, silky dogwood, winterberry holly to name a few - can all be beautiful additions to the shrub border.

  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa
    5 months ago

    I just came in from the first firefly catching expedition of the season. I'm glad my daughter still gets excited about it, and I have to admit even at my age the sparkling all over was pretty cool.

    My yard is a decent size but still suburban and one of the most interesting (to me) parts is the back corner where I only mow on and off starting in August. I call it the meadow, my wife calls it the weed and tick patch, but it's always filled with better things than weeds and ticks. Crickets, fireflies, butterflies, and all the other less fun bugs that go with a lively outside all keep the corner interesting. It's not a prairie since I mow it, but it's more than a lawn.

    I guess my point is if you're mowing your lawn just for the sake of mowing it consider taking a break. The kids have plenty of lawn in front to play, but the back part is overkill and instead I just mow a few paths to keep it legit looking, and enjoy. Quite a few wildflowers have come in on their own. I pull what I don't like.

    Duffy that's pretty impressive. I'd be overwhelmed by something of that scale!

  • four (9B near 9A)
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    > shrubs... beautiful additions to the shrub border
    As a practical matter, butterflies need frequent brief retreats into shade. Also, the more security cover that is near to them, the longer lasting their excursions around the yard /field. Also, the males of some species perch and watch, as opposed to the on-the-move patrolling.

  • docmom_gw
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Another reason to limiting mowing is the carbon sequestration of anything green. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants absorb the energy from the sun and use it to convert carbon dioxide in the air to organic plant material. That carbon material is transported down to the roots which grow deeper and improve the soil’s ability to absorb and hold both water and mineral nutrients. Not to mention the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, that will help slow global warming. The taller grass is able to carry out much more photosynthesis, based on surface area of leaves, and it also shades and cools the ground, decreasing the irrigation required to keep the grass green. Also, the fossil fuels we use to power lawn mowers adds to pollution, etc. I agree with Katob take a break from mowing!

    Martha