How WelcomeWildlife came about
Before it was bulldozed, scraped, and dredged, my new plot of land had been in a relatively natural state. But, later, every living thing that didn’t or couldn’t scramble away was smashed to smithereens, as they say. And I stood proud! My new house was slowly rising from the basement to the sky.
Pride of ownership in my very own home at first blinded me to the landscape that now surrounded it. Everything green and lush was gone, replaced with brown everywhere: from the scraped-clean surface of the ground to the top of my “Newport Brown” painted siding and rising from there to the tip of the brown-shingled roof.
When I first saw the suburban lot I purchased—in fact, what drew me to it—was its natural beauty. Native grasses waved hello to me from a meadow. A pond, wrapped in the safety of water-loving trees and a tangle of undergrowth, was tucked in on the far side of a small woodland, and bustling with the comings and goings and sounds of geese and ducks.
Yet, I had eradicated my small part of all this without a second thought. I knew about environmentalists’ concerns regarding wildlife habitat destruction on a grand scale—agricultural encroachment in the Amazon Rainforest, logging in old-growth forests, the draining of marshes, and so forth—but I saw myself as simply an insignificant new homeowner fulfilling my version of the American Dream. After all, my entire lot measures only 0.24 of an acre, which is only 1/5th the square footage of the White House, 1/4 the size of my local supermarket, and it would fit in just part of the grocery section of a nearby Walmart Superstore (seriously). My environmental footprint seemed so insignificant by comparison.
It was while planning my new landscaping that my pride dissolved. I stumbled upon compelling information about the consequences of habitat destruction on a small scale—my scale. So, I set about fixing my damage to the extent that I could. It has now been more than thirty years, and I’m happy to report that I know from experience (and a lot of mistakes) what can be done to live harmoniously with nature and wildlife. I can’t give back the little plot of ground my house itself sits on, but it’s surrounded, right up to its foundation, by a naturalized landscape.
My little dot of land didn’t remain a tiny island in a broad sea of natural habitat, of course. As these things go on the edges of a city, it slowly became enveloped by dozens of others soldiering side-by-side, locked in a grid of concrete and asphalt. That lovely, vital pond was tamed by developers and is now ringed by tidy houses and a vast plain of flawless fescue lawns. Pesticides and insecticides are routinely applied to maintain perfection, and animals simply can’t survive there. The woodland has been so thinned, sheared, and cleared that it now looks something like a sad stand of old, wood telephone poles topped by a little fluff of greenery.
I’m not blaming my neighbors, at least not much, because they’re as uninformed as I originally was. I’ve done what I can to educate, but it takes a certain mindset, along with a determination to follow through.
Fortunately, more and more people are discovering, sometimes by visiting this site, they can create a win/win situation. We humans can have our “dream home”—whether it’s a house and yard, a loft with a rooftop for gardening, or an apartment with a patio for potted plants—and share it with wildlife. A backyard wildlife habitat can be as elaborate or as simple as you wish—and, it needn’t look wild to be inviting to wildlife. The reward will be in knowing you played your part in giving back to nature and the wild animals that were driven away. And, there’s an immense pleasure to be found in observing the results.
Whether you want to convert only a small area or an entire yard as a habitat for wildlife, you’ll find the information you need on this site, as well as in-depth information about some of the animals that will use it. If you’re like me (and most people who come to this site are or want to be), you’ll be amazed at how much satisfaction you’ll feel from knowing you’re taking action. Not to mention the pleasure of introducing yourself and your children to the wild animals that will live their lives as your neighbors in the welcoming haven you created especially for them. So, let your yard go au naturel!
Tara Allison, founder