Verdant View – September 2023

Rewilding Your Garden

What Is Rewilding?

Rewilding is the act of restoring an area of land to its natural uncultivated state with the reintroduction of native plants, trees, wild animal species that have been driven out or exterminated, then letting nature take over helping natural processes to occur freely. The intention is one of repairing damaged ecosystems, large or small. 

Rewilding can also be a way of thinking about our place in the web of life and is offered increasingly as a form of green therapy (Kendra Wilson.)

Why Rewild?

As most of us are aware with recent climate changes, we find the conditions under which we previously gardened to be shifting, now requiring us to change our watering schedules, when we germinate seeds, when we transplant and when our harvest will be ready. Once you start rewilding your garden, nature will rebalance itself and you find fewer pests on your plants because their natural predators will be thriving. 

In the past 50 years, more than half of the world’s wildlife is thought to have been lost, thanks largely to deforestation, grazing, industrialization, pollution and the excessive use of natural resources. 

If we consider how nature grows we can see how leaves and other bits of organic matter fall to the ground and how animals and microbes move these bits of nature by eating, pooping, tunneling, depositing seeds. This all happens without tilling the soil.  If we do not massively disturb and harm the soil we can protect and nurture the soil ecosystem, which in turn helps our gardens and plants grow.

I’ve found that most gardeners tend to like their gardens neat and tidy. We can help heal our environment and make a difference with just a slight change in mindset.

Green Therapy

As our environment changes rapidly I also find many of my family and friends filled with feelings of fear and despair. They feel a sense of helplessness and lack of empowerment. I’ve found that making even the smallest contributions is therapeutic. Gardening can help. If we look toward gardening of abandoned, neglected or forgotten spaces the transformation can make a difference to flora and fauna. One garden alone may not make a massive difference, but lots of gardens and backyards together have a much bigger impact.

Some Ways To Rewild Your Garden

Stop and observe what is already there

Stop using chemical fertilizers and/or pesticides

Choose the appropriate plants and seeds for your environment

Plant insect-friendly plants

Create a compost pile or pit

Install feeders and nest boxes

Build a pond

Allow the grass to grow longer

Plant a mini meadow

Mulch instead of digging

Leave a few undisturbed corners

Reduce hard landscaping and fencing

Make a rockery

Be tolerant


Adaptation and resilience are complex and usually require a long period of time to achieve but the bottom line is creating diverse plant communities that support linkages between many kinds of organisms can help the environment and ourselves.  Rewilding can help accomplish this task.

A common misconception of rewilding is that these gardens are best left to grow completely wild. The truth is our habitats need to be managed to ensure they stay healthy and in good condition.  Meadows will normally be cut once a year, shrubs are typically coppiced or pollarded instead of trimmed. Wildlife ponds also benefit from a clearing out of excessive pond weeds once a year.

What to plant in September

September’s mildness makes gardening tasks pleasant. The soil and air are warm but not overly hot. Fresh summer produce is still delicious, but production is slowing down. Garden tasks usually center around cleaning up the old garden and getting the new one started.

Seeds and transplants of cool-weather-hardy crops can be planted now for harvests from fall through early spring. Soil amendments can now be collected and placed into the ground to break down over the winter, enriching the soil for next year’s gardens.

The rains are tapering off.  Look for Moluccella or Bells of Ireland. It may be hard to find, so consider starting the plants from seed. Also at the viveros: ageratum (in pink, blue, and white), kalanchoe, chrysanthemums, the familiar annuals: zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, and sunflowers and all of the plants that do well all year round. Now is the time to put members of the cabbage family into your veggie garden and also lettuce, peas, and spinach. Since our rains are at their end, you may have to begin a regular watering schedule towards the end of the month. Water deeply once or twice a week to promote deep root growth. Let the soil around established plants dry out between watering. Keep pruning, deadheading, and fertilizing, especially if you use a liquid fertilizer.

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Francisco Nava
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