Edwina von Gal Photographed by Sophie Griffen

Photographed by Edwina von Gal


Edwina von Gal Photographed by Lindsay Morris

1. Assess

  • Take a good look at your property and get to know it well. 
  • What Eco Region are you in? EcoRegion Map will guide you in choosing plants that are right for your place.
  • Note the conditions that are basic to plants: sun, shade, soil, slope.
  • Look at natural places nearby with the same conditions to see what is growing there.  Use a plant ID app or, better yet, a person who knows. Take photos of what looks lovely to you. 
  • Think carefully about not just what you want to do to your property, but what your property can do for you.  Instead of wrestling it into something it doesn’t want to be, work with it, not against.  A world of wonder awaits.




2. Reduce / ReThink your Lawn

  • How much of your lawn do you actively use? Mark it off.  (area rug vs wall to wall?)  Convert the rest to native plants. They are so much less work and so much more alive.
  • Maintain the lawn you keep by mulch mowing and leaving clippings, encouraging clover (it fixes nitrogen) and watering wisely. Add compost (if needed) and overseed in the fall.  No fertilizers, NO pesticides.



3. Plant Natives

Promote habitat and biodiversity. Plant the plants that lived there in health and happiness for eons before people arrived to “care” for them*.  Plant lots of different species (monocultures are a cop out) to attract lots of different birds and bees (and bats and bunnies and….)




4. Compost and Close the Food Loop

Keep all the organic matter (biomass) your property makes and feed it back to the soil.  




5. Stop Fertilizing

The plants that are right for the soil and fed with their own (composted) biomass, don’t need fertilizers*.




6. Stop Using Pesticides

All life forms need to eat, and we need them to eat and thrive as part of a complete ecosystem.  If caterpillars are eating your leaves, rejoice, plants evolved to be eaten and those caterpillars will be food for baby birds, or grow up to become moths and butterflies.  They eat far fewer leaves than arborists prune off in a season.




7. Stop Chopping

Why do we all feel compelled to prune and shear and shape?  Domination?  OCD?  Arborvictims?  Left to grow as they like; plants have lovely shapes that are integral to their resiliency.  The deadwood they harbor is a unique bird feeder ecosystem. Keep in mind–every cut is a wound–try to resist whacking away at a perfectly formed fellow life form*.




8. Stop Mulching

Plants love a packed party; they will fill every available space.  If you don’t want weeds, beat them to the party and fill every space with the plants you want. Don’t use mulch, it is a growth inhibitor that keeps plants apart and estranged.




9. Water Right

Ideally, there are very few plants in your garden that need watering because you have chosen natives that evolved without it. But, just in case you are in a drought, you might want to ease the stress, and give your plants a good deep drink.  Why is it so hard for everyone to water correctly? Think like rain: water seldom, water deep.  That means maybe once a week and for at least 45-60 min.  Of course, your soil type will have some bearing, so check and see how deep your watering actually got; 12-18” would be nice.




10. Learn to Let Go

And partner with nature- tightly manicured gardens are not living their lives, they are living yours, which generally means there isn’t much wild life accommodated, and they are actually quite dead.  Go for life. It is our future in your hands.




And, for more info, read the PRFCT Earth LeafLet: Basics of Nature Based and check out the super helpful Resources at Two Thirds for the Birds www.234birds.org


Words by Edwina von Gal, Founder of Perfect Earth Project





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Wren Hand Smocked Dress
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