Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Our native woodland garden - Neighbourhood pioneers or pariahs?

We are the talk of our neighbourhood and not in a good way. Passers-by checking out our front yard belong to two categories; those who are  really curious about what’s going on in our front garden and those who think its a disaster and wish we would have neatly cut perfect lawn like the rest of our neighbours’ do.

Misha came up with the idea of taking up the lawn and creating a native woodland garden. I loved the idea! A native garden is better for the environment as it provides habitat and food for birds, insects and pollinators, increases biodiversity and as native plants have adapted well to the local climate, it requires minimal watering and maintenance.

The idea was great but we didn’t realize what a huge job it would be. First of all, we have to deal with a fully grown Norway Maple tree on our front lawn. Norway Maples are notoriously challenging trees to grow plants under. They are non-native and their shallow roots suck up all the water around them. Also, they are very dense so they let very little light and rain through for plants trying to survive under them.  They also drip a toxin from their leaves that many plants cannot tolerate.  They are now considered an invasive species in many of our urban forests. 

Our Norway Maple

Removing the sod is also challenging but we have developed a fairly efficient system to survive the experience.  I let Misha go out by himself to remove the sod so I don’t have to hear all the cursing and swearing.  Once it is removed and the ground prepared, I come out to help plant. It works for me :)

This is what we started out with - decent green grassed front yard

We looked for Ontario native plants that were shade and drought tolerant, such as violets, foam flowers, wild geraniums and wild ginger. We also planted a dogwood, serviceberry, viburnum, wild rose bush, snowberry and two yews. We have been planting since March, but our front yard is still a disaster. 

This is our front yard now. A total disaster!

The next step will be to plant some more ground covers and to create a flagstone path to provide access to the side garden. That’s going to be the fun part. Hopefully it will pull the look together and appease our neighbours. 


No comments:

Post a Comment