I’m a country kid turned urban girl. I grew up on a small dairy farm in rural Wisconsin, and now find myself living and working in (the big city of) Madison Wisconsin. I majored in Wildlife Ecology and Landscape Architecture, basically natural resources management at UW-Madison after working in customer service for 10 years. While I can’t put in a 40-acre prairie in my urban backyard, I’ve decided to try to make as much of my yard wildlife friendly and I can by eliminating pesticides/herbicides, planting native plants, and working to provide the essentials to the bees, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife that stop in for a visit.
I’ve never understood the attraction to a smooth, manicured lawn. To me, wildflowers, knarly oak trees, spreading cedars, all of those ‘unkempt’ vagabonds of the rural landscape always held more appeal. A sea of green grass, never more than a half inch tall, with not a single dandelion, milkweed, or even goldenrod to be seen just seems like a boring and time-consuming fight against the tide. Needless to say, I’m not joining a home owners association any time soon…
Add to that the fact that pollinators are disappearing, Monarch butterflies are declining, and (it seems) people’s inability to identify even common wildlife anymore, and you have the genesis of my desire to create a wildlife haven in my moderately-size yard in Madison, Wisconsin.
The National Wildlife Federation says that there are 4 things that are needed for an area to be successful habitat for native wildlife. Wildlife (birds, insects, mammals, reptiles, etc.) need:
- A place to raise their young
Since a total yard overhaul is outside of my ability and budget to enact in a single year, I’ve been adding a new native plant garden each year for the past 2 years (with a 3rd planned to be installed in May, 2016). My ultimate goal is to have my ‘mowable’ lawn area decreased by 50% over the 10 years I estimate it will take me to install all of the beds I envision. I am purchasing native plants (mostly herbaceous at the moment, but I plan to add shrubs and possibly some small trees in the future) and focusing on species that provide at least 1 of the items listed above.
This site is my chance to document this journey and share it with other interested people. I hope to inspire you to take whatever space you have (whether its a large yard or a window flower box) and enjoy the fruits of giving nature a bit of a leg up.