The Nature of Yard Work

Despised as just another chore during our teen years, yard work is a favorite activity for many adults. After all, it gets us outdoors, affords plenty of exercise, allows us to reconnect with nature and rewards us with garden foods and the beauty of flowering plants.

Of course, our definition of natural beauty varies and our individual preferences can lead to household conflicts. Some prefer manicured landscapes with broad, uniform lawns, evenly trimmed shrubs, neatly spaced plants and store-bought mulch. Others, myself included, favor limited lawn space, broad, naturalized borders and self-sustaining perennials. Perhaps the primary source of disagreement arises with the decision to use or ban fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and other products that are marketed to yield pristine, weed-free, insect-controlled lawns and gardens. After all, one must compete with the neighbors.

If you, like most naturalists, want a property with a diverse population of wildlife, it's best to utilize native plants, establish wild borders, minimize lawn space and abolish the use of artificial chemicals. You'll still have enough to keep you busy but you'll have more time to enjoy your wild neighbors and they will benefit from your pollution-free patch of earth.