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Is a beautiful lawn beneficial for biodiversity?

A floral buffet with successive flowerings will contribute to attract pollinators as long as nice weather lasts.
Credit: Espace pour la vie (Francis Cardinal)
Floral buffet
  • Floral buffet
  • Stack of logs
  • mushroom
  • old stump
  • conifer cones
Is a beautiful lawn beneficial for biodiversity?

Whereas once they were idolized, beautiful lawns are on the way to having the grass cut from under them, so to speak. Today, grassed-over areas are so popular that Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) is ranked as the most cultivated ornamental plant in Canada. Not to mention concrete, the king of cities. Lawns are in the process of being replaced by gardens that will bring with them greater ecological services than simple stretches of turf. It seems obvious that your neighbor’s “greener” grass too often mown, clover-free, dandelion-free and treated with pesticides – or his paved areas are not environments favorable to biodiversity.

Agree to ask yourself questions

If we take a step back, we understand that one of the most favorable actions for biodiversity is letting it simply unfold. This involves learning to appreciate less charismatic species and putting up more with disorder. Aren’t weeds simply plants whose qualities we’re ignorant of and that grow where we don’t want them to? Fungi, meanwhile, pioneers of life on solid ground, are neglected allies in the recycling of nutrients, and live in symbiosis with numerous plants. Dead trees, too often felled, serve as pantries for a great many birds and at the same time provide very special breeding grounds. The same thing goes for dead leaves, which all too often end up in plastic bags when they could be put to further use in retaining moisture in the soil and serving as guest houses for numerous invertebrates.

Although they’re not native, dandelions are also a good example. Some people wage war against them, but others eat them in salads. Times change: think back to when throwing bread to birds was the thing to do to.

Human beings have this nasty tendency of wanting to control or clean everything. To facilitate the return of biodiversity in our gardens means calling into question some of our habits.

The (right) actions for fostering local biodiversity

For beginners, everything can seem complex. And yet, a few tips can be easily adopted.

  • First of all, prioritize native plants adapted to your region, and above all avoid introducing invasive species.

  • Next, banking on diversity is a guarantee of success. As it happens, a diversified garden will offer wildlife a number of helping hands (nectar, shelter, larder, breeding grounds, and so on). A bit like your finances, your garden will be more resilient if you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

  • To all that, add sound ecological practices such as the absence of pesticides, composting, and moderate reliance on fertilizers, and you’ll end up with a simple and effective recipe for reducing your ecological footprint.

Every green space counts

Finally, it’s probably the sum total of all our actions that contributes to making a difference. Imagine for a moment if all vacant lots were laid out in favor of nature. Your yard and flowerbeds may be small, but they’ll play a role all the same in promoting biodiversity and possibly even serve as a rest stop for migratory species as part of a vast green corridor.

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1 Comment(s)
Cym Gomery's picture
Cym Gomery

I am glad that you mentioned invasive species. I found many invasive species in my notre-dame-de-grace neighbourhood garden - buckthorn; creeping bellflower (lots); Norway maple; Manitoba maple; wild chervil; to name just a few. I learned about these online but all the information came from outside Quebec. Too bad that Quebec does not have an invasive species council to address this problem systematically.

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