Habitat gardening is not working with pristine, untouched nature, but with the nature all around us within our developed landscapes.
This includes our yards, playgrounds, business parks, vacant patches of land, and patches of open space within our communities.
The habitat garden is not the conventional garden of constant upkeep, such as fertilizing, pruning, and re-mulching, but a sustainable, less resource intensive garden that is more hands-off. It will require some weeding and watering, especially after it’s first planted, but the habitat garden is more self-sufficient, and is designed to mimic nature’s natural processes until it eventually takes off on its own.
Habitat gardens are no replacement for large, core habitat areas. It is critical to preserve large natural areas whenever that opportunity arises. But habitat gardens can have a big impact, being nimble and planted within the fabric of already built areas, while connecting the dots to larger core habitat areas. The gardens can serve as pockets of food and cover for birds and wildlife, as nectar fuel-up stops for butterflies, and as sites of native plant seed dispersal and establishment, helping to maintain biodiversity.
Habitat loss and degradation is the leading cause of species decline in the U.S. Given that so much of the American landscape is covered with lawn (40 million acres to be exact), we see this as an untapped resource of open space to re-create that lost habitat. We want to replace the 40 million acres of lawn with 40 million acres of habitat gardens.
Plant a habitat garden, water a lot and weed it sometimes, watch the plants grow in, enjoy the bees and butterflies that come visit, and know that you are taking a big step towards helping the environment.