What is the status of That Blog?

A lot has changed since That Blog was launched four years ago.

Around the same time that the first posts were being published, the National Pollinator Garden Network – an association of conservation non-profits, civic organizations, and garden industry trade groups – was beginning a campaign to bring about the creation and registration of 1 million new pollinator-friendly gardens.

By the end of 2018, the Network had not only met that goal, but passed it by tens of thousands of gardens. The association estimates that over 8 million people contributed to this remarkable achievement, and that the new gardens represent more than 5 million acres of habitat for pollinators. The vast majority of the gardens – 85% of those registered for the campaign – are small plantings in urban and suburban residential neighborhoods.

This shift in gardening behavior has been accompanied by a massive change in attitudes towards native plants and natural gardens. Since the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge began, associations representing garden centers report a 92% increase in consumer demand for pollinator-friendly plants. 83% of landscape architects say that more and more of their customers are asking for sustainable designs using native plants. And the idea that gardens can and should provide important ecological functions is rapidly replacing the idea that gardens are solely for decoration.

Over the past four years, much has changed for That Blogger too. Since creating That Blog, the writer has completed a master’s thesis about the importance of native plant gardening, successfully established a native plant garden, and moved into a communications position with a major national conservation non-profit.

Due to the increasing weight of competing obligations, and the declining need to produce and share information about environmentally-friendly gardening practices, That Blog will no longer be actively updated. All 230 posts will remain published indefinitely, to educate and inspire all readers.

That Blogger thanks you for your support, and wishes you great joy and success in all your gardening endeavors.

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What is the status of That Blog?

How old is That Blog now?

That Blog turns two years old this week. It is dedicated to explaining why homeowners might want to give up their lawns and instead garden with plants native to their region. Here is a recap of some of those reasons.

Lawns contribute to climate change.

Lawns contribute to species extinctions.

Lawns waste water and other resources.

Lawnmowers are dangerous.

So are pesticides.

And fertilizers.

Natural yards are easier to maintain.

And they make our lives more joyful.

 

Natural yards have continued to gain in popularity since That Blog began. This trend seems likely to continue. Since it takes three to five years to establish a natural yard, as it is said, the best time to begin is now.

How old is That Blog now?

What’s going on in That Yard?

This is the 100th post on That Blog. While the blog was started just over a year ago, That Yard has been a work in progress for three summers. Since permaculture practitioners say it takes three years for a design to come together and start functioning as a self-sustaining system, this seems like a good time to review what’s going on in That Yard.

The first summer was spent observing, learning about the site conditions, and planning for subsequent years.

In the second summer, several different plantings were established. These formed the nuclei for miniature ecosystems, including a prairie, a forest, and a rain garden.

In the third year, these ecosystems were expanded on, and remaining unconverted areas were turned into a Hugelkultur bed and a pond. Now the entire yard is planted with native species, except for a few oddly-shaped corners, which will be filled in next year.

All of this has been accomplished with no chemicals and no powered equipment. What have been the effects?

First, life abounds. At any given time, from early spring through late fall, multiple species of plants are flowering. These plants attract a wide assortment of pollinators, among them bumblebees and monarch butterflies. The yard has hosted at least 49 species of birds, and thanks to the pond, a pair of frogs has recently moved in.

There are lots of benefits for people, too. All those plants provide plenty of clean air for the neighborhood. They don’t need to be mown, eliminating noise and air pollution. They capture rain before it reaches the street, while taking nothing from municipal water supplies.

What remains to be done? In summers four and five, the new plants will continue to get established. As they do, the number of species flowering will increase, and the odd corners will fill in. Non-native species, such as buckthorn and garlic mustard, will be pulled out to help with this process.

Before long, the yard will be a healthy, mature system, providing a variety of benefits and requiring minimal work.

Like any kind of transition, establishing a natural yard can be difficult and messy. But success is virtually guaranteed, and the results are more than worth it!

What’s going on in That Yard?

How old is That Blog?

That Blog is one year old today! This seems like a good time to recap some key points.

In the 1600s, American settlers imported a plant known as old world meadowgrass, in order to use it as food for cows and sheep. Over time, the plant acquired the name of Kentucky bluegrass, and began to be used in a novel landscaping feature called a lawn.

Lawns, and bluegrass, spread all over the United States. However, the grass – adapted to the cool, wet climate of northwestern Europe – did not fare well in the hot South or the dry conditions of the West. This was unacceptable to lawn owners, who responded by showering the grass with fertilizers, pesticides, and supplemental water.

These treatments successfully encouraged the grass to grow. But the owners did not want the grass to grow, so they mowed it. This was detrimental to the grass’s health, so the owners gave it more fertilizers, pesticides, and water. And so the cycle went.

Some people, feeling that this was a waste of time, decided to give up their lawns and instead invite nature into their yards. As scientific evidence of the harms caused by lawns accumulates, cities and states have passed laws encouraging, or even requiring, alternatives to lawns.

Today, many people still have lawns, but a growing number do not. The purpose of That Blog is to provide information about lawns and their alternatives, in order to help people decide what kind of yard is right for them.

How old is That Blog?

What is this blog?

This blog seeks to answer questions about sustainable gardening for those who are not familiar with the practice. The author holds a master’s in environmental science, works as a journalist, and practices a combination of permaculture and native plant gardening in Madison, Wisconsin. Leave your own questions as a comment on any post, and they will be answered soon!

This blog is best read from the beginning.

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What is this blog?