Rewilding is a progressive form of ecological restoration and conservation that returns a region to its natural, wild, and “unkempt” state. Here at The Optimist Daily, we love to spotlight the amazing rewilding initiatives that are taking off worldwide, and exactly how each project helps boost biodiversity and supports the surrounding environment.
We’ve written about the Nature Conservancy restoring 7,000 acres along the Illinois River back into wetlands, the Bison Reintroduction Project in Romania that was established by the WWF and Rewilding Europe, and how Baron Randal Plunkett, the 21st Baron of Dunsany in Ireland, rewilded 750 acres of his hereditary estate. Even celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio are getting involved in rewilding projects all over the world.
But, you don’t need to have an environmental organization, be a Baron, or have the pull of fame and celebrity to help rewild the world. According to famous garden designer and personality Diarmuid Gavin, you can rewild your own garden or local area in six easy steps.
Relax when it comes to weeds
Even though weeds are often portrayed as the “enemy,” the fact is that weeds are just wildflowers. The reason weeds flourish is because they are in their home environment—which means that native insects will benefit from them, too.
Let the grass grow
The Optimist Daily is a big supporter of No Mow May, but who says we have to limit lawn-mowing for just one month? Remember that pristine and perfect lawns are an ecological desert. Cutting back on mowing to once every three weeks, or leaving select areas of your yard uncut will let the grasses flower. This will in turn offer valuable pollen to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
Create a mini-meadow and plant wildflower seeds
You don’t have to give up your entire lawn to the wilderness, but you can dedicate a small sunny patch to native wildflowers. To start, prepare the ground by getting rid of any grass (because grass grows more vigorously than wildflowers and will choke them out).
Poor soil is actually great for wildflowers, but if you have very fertile soil then remove the top couple of inches. Plant your seeds in the autumn or in the spring by scattering them generously. Don’t cover the seeds in the soil, simply rake and water if your weather app shows that there won’t be any rain for a while.
Plant a hedge instead of a fence
Sometimes fences are necessary if you have small pets. However, most of the time a fence can be switched out for a hedge that’ll do the same job, only better, because it also supports native species. Hedges, unlike fences, provide foliage, nectar, flowers, fruit, and hideouts for insects and other critters.
Mind the birds
If you cultivated a new love for listening to birdsongs and birdwatching over the pandemic lockdowns, don’t let the interest fade! Continue attracting birds to your garden by planting suitable trees and shrubs that birds are known to shelter in. Deck out your green space with bird feeders, nesting boxes, and a clean source of water, too.
Every time soil is broken up with forking, rotovating, and digging, the soil structure is destroyed and carbon is released.
Instead of digging up weeds, bury them with a thick mulch of compost or layers of cardboard. Around two to six inches of mulch will keep light away from the weeds and limit their growth. The organic matter of the mulch will also enrich the soil and support the soil structure.