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Nature popping! Outdoor Greening Sacred Spaces: Fact Sheets 2 & 3

Resources. Guides. Nature. Biodiversity. Gardens. Habitat. Pollinators. Vegetables. Community. Biodiversity Day: Building a shared future for all life. Living in harmony with nature.

Developed in 2017 by our Green Sacred Spaces Ottawa chapter, these ten downloadable Outdoor Greening Factsheets cover the following topics:

  1. Sustainable Lawns, Groundcovers and Alternatives 
  2. Landscaping for energy-savings 
  3. Stormwater Management 
  4. Water Conservation and Drought-tolerant Landscaping 
  5. Hedgerows 
  6. Choosing and planting Native Trees & Shrubs 
  7. Wildlife-friendly Garden 
  8. Bird-friendly Garden 
  9. Urban Meadows 
  10. Special Purpose Gardens: Healing, Meditation, Medicine Wheel, Labyrinth Gardens

In this blog, we are highlighting Fact Sheets 2 and 3. 

Fact sheet 2: Landscaping for energy-savings 

Sustainable energy-efficient landscaping takes into consideration the ways that landscaping can save energy on heating and cooling and also the ways to save energy by choosing lower emission gardening practices. Certain types of landscapes consume larger amounts of energy than are necessary, especially when we are trying to create a different type of habitat than would be there naturally. Faith communities can choose alternative landscapes or retrofit their garden beds to lower the consumption of energy and water on their properties. This has a positive effect not only for their own community, but also the neighbourhood area and even the city.

Outdoor Greening Energy Efficient Options

Consider your own energy efficiency and take a page out of permaculture manuals. Identify your Zone “Zero” and keep all your more regular garden activities closer to the building. If possible, locate your altar flower garden bed, composting corner and any other daily or weekly gardening activities in this zone. Also if using a rain barrel, locate flowers that need more watering close to this area. Wilder, more natural areas are located on the outskirts of property as they don’t have to be visited often.

Consider solar lighting for your gardens. Solar lights are a great option but they do need to be charged properly at the start and require some care. Charge them for 5 – 10 cycles in full direct sunlight before setting them out, avoid installing them near street lights, keep the solar panels clean and brush off snow in the winter. With cold winters the batteries need to be replaced annually.

Make your own fertilizer from compost and weeds. Scraps from the office kitchen and event hospitality can be collected to make compost. Higher nutrient food waste includes bananas, egg shells, coffee grounds and boiled water from vegetables. Add to a compost heap and include weeds that are high in nitrogen and/or phosphorus such as Chickweed, Lamb’s Quarters, Curly Dock, Stinging Nettle, Clover, Common Burdock and Field Horsetail. Just make sure they haven’t gone to seed.

Extend a community garden’s growing season. Locate your gardens against southern facing brick or stone walls. Even better if you can create a teepee or encourage climbing plants to grow on trellises against the wall in this location as the stone soaks up the heat during the day and radiates it back out after the sun sets, creating a micro climate.

Fact sheet 3: Stormwater Management 

Water seems bountiful: flowing in our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans and cyclically being refreshed and renewed. We rely on it, in its pristine condition, as without it we couldn’t survive. But in current times, many urban centres need to manage for both an abundance of rainwater while at the same time finding themselves rationing water during hot dry periods. The quality of water is also a large concern, as the issue of pollution in water is on the rise, whether it is high levels of phosphates and nitrates from fertilizers, discarded medicine chemicals that get into municipal water supplies, leaks of oil and other residues from driveways and streets or toxins and plastics from litter.

Rain barrels Rain barrels provide you with free water. Rain barrels store water on site and allow ambient temperature water to nourish garden beds rather than having cooler municipal water shock plants. Rain water doesn’t have added chemicals (like fluoride) that your plants do not need and it has the added bonus of being highly oxygenated. 

Dry Stream bed Landscaping A dry stream bed is a perfect landscaping option when you are trying to divert water run off and need to channel it in an attractive way. This can be used to direct water to a low area on your property (just ensure that the water table is not high in the designated catchment area) or a dry stream bed can be designed specifically as a landscape feature for overflow drainage towards the municipal stormwater system. This type of overflow drainage helps decrease the amount of water that enters the municipal stormwater system. The rock bed and green landscaping surrounding it, will provide an aesthetically pleasing design to your property.

Rain Garden A rain garden allows water to sink into your yard rather than having it directed off of your property. Rain gardens use plants to soak up excess water. Many native plants with fibrous roots are wonderful for filtering this type of water. Rain gardens will look like other garden beds full of perennials but these beds can tolerate large fluctuations in water and survive drought periods.

Download fact sheet here.

Living in Harmony with Nature

Let your sacred space be an example of your stewardship and commitment for caring for creation. Our many garden resources offer guidance and inspiration to help you learn to live in harmony with nature and restore the sacred balance of the Earth. Learn about sustainable practices for water and energy including xeriscaping, rain gardens, and water-wise strategies with our Outdoor Greening Fact Sheets. Read about the possibilities of turning a section of your faith community property into an ecological haven for wildlife including pollinators such as insects and birds. Get to know more about the benefits of planting native species of grasses, flowers, shrubs, and trees for your new meditation or prayer garden or in your memorial grounds. Click here for more of our gardening resources.

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