As I write this, a male cardinal is snacking on the vibrant red berries of our native Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua). He loves the berries, but he also appreciates the cover from the holly grove's dense branching. We have a suite of birdfeeders, but somehow it's more satisfying to see birds dining on seeds and berries al fresco .
So, obviously one of my top five reasons for a sustainable home landscape is watchable wildlife (#1) . But, you should know when you invite wildlife into your yard you may see sex and violence. Several years back, a client called to tell me how distraught she was that her children saw a black snake eat a mouse in her backyard.
"Yes, ma'am. That's a great lesson for them on the food chain."
Hey, bringing nature home isn't all Disney. But, with natural plant and animal diversity (#2) come natural predators that are healthier for the environment--and healthier for us than chemical pesticides, herbicides and, fungicides. Think ladybugs, praying mantis, toads and more. And, related to this are natural pollinators including butterflies, bees and, hummingbirds.
Being water-wise is next (#3). I'm sure our water bill is far less than some in our neighborhood with thirsty non-natives that are out of their element. The way we've landscaped to slow, absorb and filter stormwater also helps--with a broad bioswale buffer filled with native grasses and woodies and permeable gravel strips. We're part of the solution to saving our local watershed along with those who have redirected downspouts to rain gardens and rain barrels. Household water costs will rise 40% within the next five years making affordable water inaccessible to 1/3 of American households. Do you think people would rather water plants or themselves?
I'd be lying if I didn't admit I love the fact that our landscape is admired by the neighbors (#4). But, that's not just because of the sustainability issues. Although a survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects found a high demand for landscape sustainabiity. It's also because our design is a native interpretation with design intent. And, that helps give the natural connection (#5) that we all crave and need. Recent studies from the University of Kansas and University of Michigan found that over 70% of people feel they've lost touch with nature. One finding showed children aged eight to 18 spend nearly eight hours daily in front of screens. This disconnect leads to depression, reduced attention span, lower self-esteem, stunted academic growth and a lessened empathy for the environment.
No wonder watching our resident cardinal makes me feel so good!
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