Plant native and drought tolerant species
London is located within the Carolinian zone of southern Ontario which is a very specific eco zone where unusual plants and animals naturally exist. Sycamore and Sassafras trees as well as shrubs and plants are examples of the vegetation types more commonly found in the Carolina region of the USA. By reflecting the unique region’s vegetation in our yards and open spaces, we are more in tune with nature and reap the benefits of those resources. Also, many native species are drought resistant plants that require less water and are better suited for London’s local climate. It is important to select the right plant for the right place. Locate plants carefully so they receive the correct sun or shade conditions. Other conditions to consider include the plants needs for shelter from wind, morning sun vs. afternoon sun, acidic or alkaline soils, fertile clay soils or well drained porous soils. Use the plant list provided in this report to determine the optimal conditions for your selected native plant species. It is often the lack of these specific requirements that lead to a plant’s failure to thrive making it prone to insect damage and ultimately death.
Produce food in your yard
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is much simpler than it sounds. All you need is some dedicated yard space, a water source such as a rain barrel, and a little time. Backyard gardening has many environmental benefits such as reducing the amount of air and water pollution that is created from commercial agriculture that uses excessive amounts of herbicides and pesticides. You will also help reduce the amount of fossil fuels used and the resulting greenhouse gases emitted to produce and transport the fresh produce all over the world to your local supermarket. Other added benefits to growing your own food include saving money on groceries, improving your family’s health, getting physical outdoor exercise, eating better-tasting food, eliminating worries about food safety, developing a sense of pride, and reducing in food waste.
Just like people, plants have friends too. Companion planting is based on the idea that certain plants can benefit others when they are planted in close proximity. Planting vegetables with others that they like will help to increase yields, decrease disease, and limit pests. Growing a variety of plants in the same area also helps to regenerate nutrients in the soil essential to the health of your plants.
Place wildlife shelters, such as bird houses or bat boxes around your yard. Birds and bats eat bugs, therefore reducing potentially harmful insects to your garden. Having a bird house in your yard lets you watch our feathered friends raise their young as well.
Increase the amount of perennials you plant
Consider replacing your costly, time consuming, and high water demand annuals with native and drought resistant perennials. Perennials easily adapt to weather conditions and are hardier than annual plants and have the advantage of coming back up year after year. Perennials also have the advantage of having a large range of height compared to low-growing annuals. Begin to invest in the planting of perennials for height, subtle colour and variety.
Space plants appropriately
Make sure you leave enough space between plants so they have room to grow and mature. Remember, your plants will increase in size both above ground (foliage) and below ground (root systems), therefore make sure you leave room for expansion. Crowding can result in increased disease, disproportionate water distribution, stunted plant growth, depleted soil nutrients, and diminished sun exposure.
Create a pollinator garden
A pollinator garden is both a beautiful and beneficial accent to your yard. You do not need a great deal of space to start one either. With only a few flowers, you can attract beneficial bees, butterflies, and other creatures to the area. Pollinator gardens often have a multitude of grasses, trees, shrubs, and wildflowers.
Appeal to the needs of pollinators through colour, fragrance, and flower form. The colour of a flower often signals these creatures to stop by. For example, butterflies are attracted to red, orange, and yellow while hummingbirds prefer red, fuchsia, and purple. Fragrant flowers signal many pollinators, including those that only come out at night.