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Habitat Garden Planning: Starting with a Clean (or Messy) Slate - Wild Roots
We’ve heard from a few people over the past couple of months who’ve moved into new homes with outdoor space, want to garden with the environment in mind, and aren’t quite sure how or where to start. We’re not professional landscape designers, but we are environmentalists with a modest budget and big dreams with experience doing exactly that. We’ve learned a lot — and are learning something new all the time — as we transform our own backyard of turf grass and invasives to a wildlife- and family-friendly habitat. Here are a few tips for getting started on your own gorgeous, peaceful, eco-friendly landscape: Seek inspiration from books (most of all!), Instagram, Pinterest, and websites. Grab a beer or a cup of coffee (or whatever drink you choose) and settle in with books that are both beautiful and informative, like American Woodland Garden, The American Meadow Garden, and Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes, or spend some time on Pinterest. (This activity isn’t just a great first step toward planning your garden; it’s good for the soul.) Learn what type of landscapes, designs, and plants you connect with most, bookmarking images and taking notes of plants and layouts you like. Is it the photos of dense meadows that make you happy? Do images of fern-heavy woodlands bring you a sense of calm? It might be something simple like a bench surrounded by shrubs, a patio bordered by sedges or a walkway bordered by a blend of grasses and flowers. Plants that work for a cottage in the English countryside won’t be appropriate here in Jersey, but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve the same vibe with low-maintenance natives. See a non-native you love? Post a comment below and we can help suggest a similar native plant. Look for inspiration in the wild. Another great way to determine how you’d like to approach your own ecological garden is to learn more about the plant communities in natural areas you love. In the Pine Barrens, for example, you’ll notice a mix of ferns, blueberry bushes, and pines. The sad truth is that we’ve destroyed most truly natural spaces around here, so this isn’t always easy. That said, we highly recommend visiting Mt. Cuba Center and Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and other managed natural areas that educate and inspire. Get to know your yard’s conditions: the light, the…