Non-Adventures in Eco-Landscaping


Bee on chive blossomI have been trying for awhile to figure out how to get this blog going again. After planning to document my eco-landscaping adventures, my dad died unexpectedly two days after my first post. My plan to fight the pesky dandelion was to remove sod and plant drought-tolerant groundcover. Two-thirds of my sod had been removed prior to my first post, the area was mulched and waiting for planting. However, instead of a summer of gardening, my landscaping plans came to an immediate standstill. Fresh mulch became overgrown with weeds while days turned to weeks, and then months went by while I sat on my back steps in a daze.

During this time, plants had started to grow amidst the weeds. The yard was overtaken with self-seeded Morning Glories, weird corn-like stalks under the bird feeders, and a hodgepodge of unidentified perennials I planted after the sod removal. Fruit was ripening on the raspberry, blackberry and strawberry bushes; and contrary to popular belief, tomatoes actually flourish when completely neglected. While the yard grew out of control, I watched feeling helpless and disinterested in doing anything to bring order to the chaos.

Last weekend as I sat on my back steps drinking a can of my dad’s Miller 64, I saw new life in this vast jungle of disorder. Mice. There were mice frolicking under the bird feeder. Two of them raced at a frenetic pace for fallen seeds, hid in the corn-like stalks and then raced back to the safety of the neglected jungle. I have since named them Bonnie and Clyde. No matter how hard I try, I still can’t tell them apart but I don’t think they mind. And there’s more. In addition to Bonnie and Clyde, there is also a chipmunk – and yes, I named him Chip. I have never seen a chipmunk in my yard since moving in four years ago, this was really something. He raced from shrubs to berry patches to the safety under the central air conditioning unit. We had new residents and my overgrown, sod-reduced yard had encouraged it.

So, while my adventures in eco-landscaping ended up being more of a non-adventure this season, the process has begun nevertheless. I find myself wanting to hang a sign saying, “I’m sorry I started this when I did, Neighbors, I hadn’t known my dad would die and interrupt my plans but I promise there IS a plan, you just won’t see it until next summer.” That said, I’m heartened to see that my meager beginnings have laid the groundwork for a habitat for city wildlife. So far it is a tangled mess of plants, weeds and a whole lot of mulch but there is more wildlife already – fewer dandelions than ever – and I look forward to future adventures.

Image of mouse
Bonnie (or Clyde) in the urban jungle.

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By Heidi Van Heel
Heidi Van Heel

Heidi Van Heel

Writer, freelancer, and believer in magic living in Minneapolis. In my free time, I love reading, exploring the great outdoors, and experimenting in the kitchen.

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