biodiversity in the suburban landscape

The urban living landscape is built. Elaborate planning goes into these designs for zoning and traffic and commercial development. After these systems are built they must be maintained or they begin to fall apart. Things constructed of lumber, steel and concrete degrade over time. So do the planned parks and greenspaces.

Now that you have a picture of this system in your mind, turn your thoughts to the last time that you were in nature, a true wilderness area. These systems regenerate over time through the natural cycle of decay and renewal. Can these systems be applied to urban landscapes?

Yes, and slowly they are in many cities as greenspaces are designed to include native species and provide for animal, bird and insect habitat. And waste reduction planning begins to consider decomposition and energy flow.

What are some things that you can do to improve the your own backyard and work with the patterns seen in nature? Have you thought about the space on your property as a wildlife preserve that can sustain plants and animals?

Often we landscape our properties as a statement of wealth and social status, neat green lawns and perfectly trimmed hedges. And these landscapes are dependent on human inputs for continued existence. We have grown to think that biodiversity is somewhere out there in "nature." A place we drive to for a visit, or perhaps a hike.

I spent much of the first year on this property removing invasive and non-native species. Many of these plants were purchased from local nurseries and garden centers, despite being on the state invasive plant list. And then I rebuilt the soil. Soil is a living ecosystem but this living layer is often removed or sterilized during development.

For many this idea of biodiversity in the home landscape is new. I forget sometimes how foreign the language of biology and ecology is for so many people.

Look out your window and assess the landscape around you.