Challenges and Solutions for Backyard Conservation Efforts
What’s In This Guide
As scientists discover more about the impact that humans have on the environment, especially when it comes to utilizing toxic pesticides and other harmful agricultural practices, more people are attempting to reverse this impact through conservation efforts elsewhere in their lives. For many people, the best way to apply these conservation efforts is in their own backyard.
Backyard conservation can take many forms, from planting a garden to providing habitat for wildlife. However, there are some challenges that come with these efforts. However, even though there may be plenty of challenges associated with backyard conservation efforts, they’re typically all worth it in the end, especially if you have the environment and your wallet in mind.
Why Put Effort Into Backyard Conservation?
Backyard conservation typically involves landscaping with sustainable methods and providing wildlife habitats for native flora and fauna. There are also plenty of benefits including:
- Sustainable landscaping and farming can help reduce water use, minimize pollution, and conserve energy.
- Providing a habitat to wildlife through sustainable landscaping not only shelters and feeds local wildlife, but also helps control pests and can even improve water quality without having to rely on harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
- Both sustainable landscaping and wildlife habitat can increase property values and provide aesthetic benefits.
Challenges of Backyard Conservation
Despite these benefits, backyard conservation isn’t exactly an easy and quick fix. Typically, you’ll experience some challenges, but there are solutions for each challenge you may come across.
Challenge: Unwanted Wildlife in Your Yard
Most people want to encourage wildlife in their yards by providing food, water, and shelter. However, there are some types of wildlife that people generally don’t want around, such as pests like rodents and insects.
So how can you manage your backyard habitat to attract the wildlife you want while keeping the wildlife you don’t want at bay?
One challenge is that many pests are attracted to the same things that other wildlife are attracted to – food, water, and shelter. So if you’re trying to attract birds, for example, you might also be attracting rodents.
Unwanted wildlife species can potentially damage your yard or present a danger to people and pets. For example, groundhogs can ruin gardens, and snakes can threaten small animals.
Solution: Keep the Habitat Tailored and Tidy
Though it may seem daunting, there are ways to keep your backyard attractive to the wildlife you want and unappealing to the critters you don’t.
One way to make your backyard more inviting for the animals you love is to provide them with a consistent food source. This can be as simple as filling a bird feeder with the right type of seed or placing squirrel guards on your feeders to prevent rodents from raiding them.
You can also reduce clutter on the ground, where rodents like to hide, by keeping your yard tidy and free of debris.
If you’re looking to keep grazing animals like deer out of your backyard, one solution is to fence in the space. This will provide a physical barrier to keep them from entering and damaging your garden.
Challenge: Native Plants Can Look Unruly
If you’re used to a well-manicured lawn and neatly trimmed flower beds, the idea of planting native plants can seem a bit daunting. After all, these plants are often known for their unruly growth habits and less than neat appearance.
But just because native plants may not look as polished as their non-native counterparts, they’re still worth planting in your yard. Native plants are some of the best choices for creating a habitat that supports local wildlife.
Native plants have co-evolved with the animals in their ecosystem, providing the food, shelter, and nesting sites these animals need to survive.
Non-native plants, on the other hand, often don’t offer the same benefits to local wildlife.
Native plants are also better adapted to their local climate and soils, making them more likely to flourish than non-native plants. And in many landscapes, native plants typically require less watering than their non-native counterparts.
However, if you’re looking for a specific aesthetic that you’re worried you can’t achieve with native gardening, you can easily solve this with the following solution.
Solution: Research Your Native Plant Choices
To achieve the look you want by replacing your non-native plants with their native counterparts, it’s important to do your research.
There are many factors to consider when selecting native plants for your garden, including climate, soil type, and sun exposure.
You’ll also want to think about what purpose the plants will serve. You should consider a variety of factors such as, whether or not you want to attract pollinators, create a natural privacy screen, or simply add some color and texture to your landscaping.
Challenge: Weed Control
Weed control is a consistent challenge for backyard conservation efforts. Weeds are inevitable, but chemical herbicides can be harmful to the environment.
But once weeds have taken hold, mechanical removal or herbicide application may be necessary. Herbicide application should be a last resort, as many chemicals can harm the environment. If herbicides are used, care should be taken to select products that are least harmful to people and wildlife.
Glyphosate, for example, is a common herbicide that has been linked to cancer and other health problems. Other herbicides, such as 2,4-D, can be toxic to bees and pollinators.
Solution: Plan Ahead of the Weeds
However, before you give up your sustainable gardening initiative and opt for herbicide, it’s best to look at prevention methods first. Many sustainable weed control strategies focus on preventing weeds from taking root in the first place, such as through landscape design, mulching, and using weed-resistant plant species.
One approach is to mulch your garden beds. This will help prevent weeds from taking root in the first place.
If weeds take root, however, you also simply pull them up as they appear. This can be effective, but it can also be a lot of work —- especially if you have a large area to cover.
You can also use organic herbicides to control weeds. Some popular organic herbicides include vinegar, salt, and Borax.
Challenge: Keeping Pests Under Control
In addition to weeds, pests are a natural accompaniment to the outdoors and gardening. Since your backyard is part of the outdoors, you’ll naturally run into a variety of pests, especially if you’re focusing on gardening plants that are part of their diet.
In addition, pests like ticks tend to flourish in areas with tall grass, or lush gardens. Although there are sustainable methods to address these pests, which we will discuss later, you can also address the problem by consulting a professional about the best pest control methods that will keep you, your children, and your pets safe.
Solution: Cultivate Biodiversity
Cultivating biodiversity can also be one of the best natural solutions for pest management, especially when tackling species that can cause damage to your backyard. Biodiversity refers to the variety of plant and animal species that exist and thrive in a certain area. The more biodiverse an area, the better the ecosystem functions.
A healthy and biodiverse backyard ecosystem is home to various plant and animal species that naturally rely upon and exist off of one another.
For example, a variety of plants in your yard will attract a myriad of helpful pollinators or birds who will either out-compete or help keep pests under control.
Native plants are also a part of a biodiverse backyard ecosystem. Since these plants naturally exist in the environment, they have adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, and they also provide habitat and food for local wildlife.
However, if cultivating biodiversity still isn’t addressing your pest problem, you can also use organic pest control methods instead of chemical pesticides.
Chemical pesticides can harm beneficial insects and other wildlife, as well as people and pets. Organic pest control methods are safe for people and the environment. By taking these simple steps, you can help create a healthy environment for people, plants, and animals.
Rewards of Backyard Conservation
There are many reasons to get involved in backyard conservation efforts. Not only can you help the environment, but you can also enjoy benefits like watching birds in your backyard or enjoying changing blooms throughout the seasons.
Whatever your motivation, know that your efforts make a difference and help create a better world for all.