How to Rewild and Love Your Very Own Backyard (and Nature)

rewild

What words would you use to describe your backyard? Big? Small? Manicured? Overgrown? Wild? If you’re like me, your backyard contains gardens and green space that you work to maintain by pruning, mowing, and landscaping. But what if your backyard were a wild space that harkened back to a less civilized time? It’s not simply letting it go–it’s called rewilding and maybe you should think about giving your backyard a rewild makeover.

What does rewild mean?

To rewild is to un-civilize and return to a more wild state. For some, this means eating only foods that our Paleolithic ancestors would recognize. For others, it means eschewing life in the twenty-first century and living almost entirely off the land.

Why would you want to rewild your backyard?

If the Paleo diet isn’t for you, and you aren’t quite ready to give up your smart phone and indoor plumbing, perhaps rewilding your backyard is the right fit–a little toe in the prehistoric pool, if you will.

You may want to rewild your backyard to have it grow native plants, including edible plants. Or maybe you live in a drought prone area and maintaining a water-intensive landscape isn’t practical.

Whatever your reasons, rewilding allows you to connect with nature and its natural ecological processes.

4 ways to rewild your backyard

1. Grow your own food and look for uncultivated edibles that may already be there. Rewilding doesn’t mean that you can’t grow a tomato plant. It does, however, mean that you should aim to grow a native variety that will thrive in your environment. But before you invest a lot of time and money into planting a garden, take note of what may already be growing in your backyard. With luck, you may find a native berry bush or dandelions.

2. Eat outdoors. Once you have your backyard edibles in hand, don’t bring them inside. Find a sunny patch of grass or a shady tree and enjoy the bounty outdoors. For those who live in colder climates, where dining alfresco in January isn’t an option, arrange your indoor furniture so that it faces a window to enjoy looking outside. (Thanks We Are Wilderness for this reminder.)

Having neighbors over for a BBQ? Try cooking around a fire pit versus a propane grill. Offer hay bales or logs for seating versus lawn chairs, or simply throw a natural fiber blanket on the ground.

3. Tune into your landscape’s needs. Do you have an app on your smart phone that reminds you when to water your lettuce seedlings? Is your lawn watered by an automatic sprinkler system? Try tending your landscape without the aid of twenty-first century gizmos. Stick your fingers in the soil to know if it needs water, and watch for signs of wilting before you schlep the hose to the garden. Better yet, let Mother Nature water for you.

4. Be kind to wild critters. Deer, rabbits, bats, snakes, and porcupines don’t have to rewild because they already are wild. (Maybe we could all learn from them.) So, when you’re rewilding your backyard let the critters roam free. Yes, this means that you’ll have to be extra-vigilant with tick checks, but it also means that you’ll harness the bats’ mosquito control powers and encourage native pollinators like honeybees.

Related on Organic Authority
Get Back to Your Roots with Native Plants and Relearn Landscaping the Natural Way
5 Edible Flowers: Love, Grow, Eat!
The Secret Truth About Lawns That Only Environmental Horticulturists Know

 

Chris Hull

Chris is a gardener living in southern Maine.