Blog by TTF’s Frankie Lazauskas, Upstream Conservation Leader
There’s strong support for eco-friendly backyards, as demonstrated by the audience of more than 50 people who attended our 2018 Eco-Friendly Backyards Workshop on March 28th. Co-sponsored by Primex Garden Center, Friends of High School Park and the Wyncote Audubon Society, Kevin Reis (FHSP) and Cindy Nuss (WAS) discussed topics ranging from stormwater management to the life cycle of insects and much more in between! Quite the range of topics, yet all with the same goal of informing folks about how they can create an “eco-friendly” backyard. Most importantly, creating an eco-friendly backyard starts with using native plants. These are the plants that have evolved and existed in this region for thousands of years – typically we consider them to have been here before the first European settlers arrived.
As Kevin and Cindy discussed, native plants manage stormwater better by having a deeper root system and provide more valuable resources for native wildlife since they evolved side by side with the wildlife of this region. Many folks who attended were interested in either mitigating flooding issues on their property or attracting more birds and butterflies to their yard.
For dealing with flooding issues, Kevin talked about the importance of understanding your landscape and how water moves around your property. When rain water comes down on your driveway, it doesn’t get a chance to soak into the ground. So, where does it go? These “impervious surfaces” that water cannot penetrate and soak into the ground, are at the root of most flooding problems. This is why it’s important to use deeper rooted native plants that can soak up some of the excess rain water.
In order to attract birds, Cindy discussed several ideas that focus on knowing what birds need. This includes, like most wildlife, food, shelter, and water. But what many tend to overlook when hoping to attract birds is the importance of insects. As Cindy said, “to attract birds, you are really trying to attract insects” because the diet of most adult birds consists of 85% insects. Even more importantly, 96% of all birds raise their young on EXCLUSIVELY insects. So, without insects, birds cannot thrive in your yard.
The major take-away from this workshop was that the way you manage your landscape can go a long way towards creating a healthier watershed. Using native plants that soak up more water and attract more wild life can make our job of protecting the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Creek much easier. With each backyard property owner who decides to manage their property in this way, our communities become more resistant to flooding, less pollutants end up in our waterways, and wildlife has a better chance of surviving in our mostly developed landscapes.
We’re counting on you to enhance and learn from our restoration work in your communities! You can learn more about our Jenkintown Creek work here. Visit our award-winning sites to see native plants and green stormwater infrastructure in action as well as to check out the information and resources on our interpretive signs.
Did you enjoy the workshop? Please share the information with your neighbors! And thank our co-sponsors, Primex Garden Center, Friends of High School Park, and Wyncote Audubon Society.