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Developed in 2017 by our Green Sacred Spaces Ottawa chapter, these ten downloadable Outdoor Greening Factsheets cover the following topics:
- Sustainable Lawns, Groundcovers and Alternatives
- Landscaping for energy-savings
- Stormwater Management
- Water Conservation and Drought-tolerant Landscaping
- Choosing and planting Native Trees & Shrubs
- Wildlife-friendly Garden
- Bird-friendly Garden
- Urban Meadows
- Special Purpose Gardens: Healing, Meditation, Medicine Wheel, Labyrinth Gardens
In this post, we highlight fact sheets 8 and 9!
Fact sheet 8: Bird-friendly Garden
Having a bird-friendly garden will give great pleasure to both faith community members and visitors alike. It can also benefit the larger neighbourhood. Birds provide colour and animation to a garden, introduce melody and beauty and also help keep insect populations in check. They support healthy flora ecology by helping move seeds around and aid in pollinating flowers. There are many social and ecological benefits to birds, and they help bridge the connection to nature that enriches so many lives.
Support what you already have on your property:Trees and shrubs do benefit from a bit of extra nutrients from time to time. Consider providing a light layer of compost once a year in the early spring or late fall. Use caution when you fertilize grass within the crown of the tree – some flowering shrubs and small trees don’t do well with lawn fertilizer.
Protect the root area from compaction and damage. Do not allow heavy equipment to be stored within the crown area and watch when excavating near trees so as not to damage roots.
Easy up on maintenance: Keep leaves on the ground in at least one area of your landscape. This can be done for a garden bed at the back or at the edges of lawn especially if you have trees on the perimeter of your property. Leaves provide shelter for insects and places to overwinter therefore providing food for ground foraging birds such as thrushes. The leaves should be left for the autumn and winter season and cleaned up in the spring. Don’t cut flower blooms or grasses in the fall. Seed flowers (such as Coneflower, Beebalm, Blackeyed Susan, Wild senna, Coreopsis) offer much needed nourishment for birds in the winter. If it’s not possible to keep garden beds unmaintained in your front beds, consider having a flower bed in the back that will provide seeds in the winter.
Fact sheet 9: Urban Meadows
Native meadows and fields (glade, prairies) are one of the lesser-valued types of habitat within a cityscape. Native meadows and prairies have been replaced by agriculture, farmland and abandoned fields that fill up with non-native species. These types of “grassland” do not provide the rich habitat that supports a healthy, resilient, biodiverse ecosystem. Woodlots and wetlands tend to be prioritized when park and conservation lands are identified, but a mixture of habitats is valuable as it supports a more diverse set of flora and fauna species.
Urban Meadow Garden Bed This is a more landscaped, deliberate option that would require weeding and nutrient cycling similar to other garden beds. It is an option for a smaller urban property and/or if the unique maintenance of a full urban meadow is not desired. A meadow flower bed would be easy to add to a garden landscape and include in the normal garden maintenance routine.
Choose a sunny area or a current garden bed that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day during most of the growing season. You can retrofit a current bed by adding native meadow flowers and grasses, just ensure to choose a garden bed that doesn’t require a lot of watering. There are some wetland meadow flowers but they will require more effort and care.
While all new plants require some extra maintenance during the first year, once they are established, drought tolerant native plants need little to be sustained. If you are establishing a new garden bed – follow the information in the primer on how to create a new garden bed. With a small garden bed (whether a new one or an existing one), choose plants and plugs (small seedlings) over the option of scattering seeds. This will ensure that the new native plants can become well established and other non-desirable plants are fewer. The plants can also be positioned in specific locations in the bed to help create the best design rather than a random scattering of seeds.
Add grasses to the garden bed to help mimic the typical environment of a meadow where the mixture is approximately seventy percent wildflowers and thirty percent grasses.
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 in the 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.