Rewilding: Return to Nature in Your Own Backyard

Over the past few weeks, our way of life has altered suddenly and dramatically. While the reason for these changes is serious, we’re also seeing some interesting changes in the way we see the world. In particular, many of us are becoming acutely aware of how many of life’s luxuries actually have very little value in times of crisis. As the next few weeks and months remain uncertain, the things that really matter to us have become crystal clear—spending time with our loved ones, having a place to live, and being able to access safe food and water.

In a way, we’re experiencing a kind of mental “rewilding” that is helping us reconnect with our most basic instincts. And now that we’re seeing ourselves from this perspective, it only seems natural to take the same view of the natural world around us.

What is Rewilding?

Rewilding is a real term that refers to a more active form of conservation. Conservation, by definition, is about protecting the ecosystems and biodiversity that exists today. Rewilding, on the other hand, focuses on restoring the natural state of the world to reverse the impacts of urbanization.

There are many ways to participate in rewilding—from tree planting to environmental activism—but most of us can start with our own homes. Like everywhere else in North America, your backyard was (and still is!) a habitat for thousands of plants and animals. Even if the space you have is no bigger than a postage stamp, you can “rewild” your yard with native plants.


Planting Natives to Rewild Your Yard

Native plants are as wild as they come. These are the plants that have evolved over millennia, along with the birds, beasts, and bugs that our ecosystems depend on. If spending time at home has you mulling over a landscaping project to spruce up your outdoor space, you can completely revitalize your landscape by planting native trees, shrubs, and perennials wherever you’ve got some space to fill. Not only is this an affordable approach to landscaping, but it can be done on your own or with the help of others in your household!

While choosing species to plant, observe the characteristics of your yard. Has the shadow of your home created a bare, shady area? These are great places to plant native ferns. Got lots of space to fill? Native trees are excellent choices for large spaces that release oxygen and create habitat for birds and insects, while native shrubs offer added privacy for you as well as a source of food and shelter for thousands of wildlife species. Looking to add more winter interest? Native grasses and evergreens benefit your landscape, as well as the local critters, through all four seasons.

Being in the Wild

The benefits of a “rewilded” yard aren’t just for the wildlife hiding beyond your property lines; they’re for you, too! In the same way that hiking through one of our many national parks gives us a sense of unity with nature, a yard that has been restored with natural plants is a rejuvenating place to be. As far as natural stress relievers go, nothing compares to the power of lush green surroundings, blooming flowers, and the sounds of nature. With native plants everywhere you look, you’re also sure to attract scads of pollinators species and other curious creatures—and given how we’ve been living lately, we could all use the company!

At our core, there’s a little bit of wilderness inside us all. Now more than ever, we have the opportunity to embrace the things that connect us to the Earth. Let’s get out there and grow something good out of it!