Thursday, June 16, 2011

Restoring the ecology of your backyard (and front yard, too)

We've embarked on our second restoration project, in the landscape of our small house in the mountains of North Carolina.  I was reminded of this, prompted to reflect on how I became a gardener.

I was an ecologist first, as was my gardening companion (aka my husband Tim), but we were glad to transform our barren (read lawn-rich) landscape in the Piedmont, to a habitat garden full of life today. 

It's what I count as being one of the most rewarding experiences that I've had as a gardener.

It wasn't hard, or especially time-consuming; it just required finding the plants we wanted (largely native), digging holes (Tim did most of that), and getting started. I added vegetable garden beds in two areas (and would love to expand them, but, you need to be mindful of the time it takes to tend to pampered domesticated crops!...)

In the mountains, we had nothing much more than mulch with a few plants in front, and below the house, a few plantings descending to an invasive-rich forest. 

Uh, we thought we wanted a low-maintenance landscape, but it was SO depressing to have bare gravel and mulch, where plants could thrive.  So that didn't last long and I've made a number of posts already about the progress of our mountain landscape and garden. 

Thinking about a garden studio down the slope encouraged us to embrace that part of our landscape;  the studio project turned into a sunroom and deck expansion project which was much more rewarding and makes a lot more sense.  I'm looking forward to using the sunroom as my 'studio' this summer (it's almost finished)!

Thank goodness my gardening companion enjoys the physical activity of moving mulch and rooting out invasive ivy, privet, honeysuckle, etc.  He's a leaf collecting devotee, too. 

It's my 'job' to put in the understory woodland herbaceous layer on the ravine slope -- a fun one, to be sure.  I'll be planning the bed layout this summer.


  1. Whenever we do a new planting we do think about adding natives. Fortunately we have Nasami Farm run by the New England Wildflower Society nearby. This wet spring has been great for settling in the new windbreak which includes mostly native trees.

  2. OK,Sue I'll post some pictures soon!

    And, Commonweeder, it's always great to add more natives, where you can.

  3. I'd love to see some before and after pictures of your new area.


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