The Backyard Adventure
Not that Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz was promoting a greener lifestyle, but her claim that “there's no place like home” often rings true. When green time is needed but time or funds don't allow a full-fledged ecotrip to exotic lands, investigate your own backyard. Local extension offices have information on what kinds of insects or birds you might find nearby. Check out books with a lot of pictures and try to match them with what you see. Some community colleges or outfitters offer classes on local flora and fauna.
Staying close to home gives you the opportunity to get to know the animals that share your yard. If you like them, you can take steps to attract them. Find out what plants grow in your area that will attract birds and butterflies. To attract even more animals, plant a garden and see who comes to visit. Putting up a bird feeder and birdbath will attract feathered friends that are either local to the area or just passing through. Bird counts are a way for residents to watch and tally the different birds that frequent their backyards. If there's a locally organized bird count, enthusiasts can learn even more about the birds in the area throughout the seasons. Outdoor fans may be surprised to find out what kind of endangered species inhabit nearby areas. You can work to help sustain the animal populations. Even if long trips aren't possible, shorter ones may provide just as much fun and excitement.
How do you discourage visits from backyard pests like skunks?
Skunks are saddled with an unfortunate reputation, but they can help you out, too. Yellow jackets eat harmful garden pests, but they can become a problem if they nest too close to your house or if you are allergic to stings. Skunks have an appetite for yellow jackets. Sprinkle some honey near the nest to invite them in. If the skunks bother you, try putting out some ammonia-soaked rags; they don't like the odor.
Nearby city parks can also provide an opportunity to get closer to nature. Parks provide open space for locals to get fresh air and for children to run around and work out their wiggles. Trees help clean the air and provide habitat for birds and squirrels. They offer not just physical relief but visual respite too. Green spaces break up the monotony of structures and roads and offer people a chance to take a breather. There's a chance that local parks and recreation departments are in need of volunteers. By helping park professionals, volunteers are able to learn a lot about their surroundings and the issues they face, from funding to encroachment.