Previously living on 3.5 rural acres, we bought this suburban house and neglected landscape in 2018 and transformed it into a biodiverse, wildlife-friendly yard within the first 3 years. The yard we inherited was a neglected, traditional landscape (boxwoods, day lilies, crape myrtles, etc.), with bush honeysuckle thickets in the backyard and tangles of wintercreeper, English ivy and overgrown trumpet creeper vines enveloping the existing beds. After we eliminated all of the aggressive species and the majority of the non-natives, we established an “informal” backyard prairie, primarily from seed in the first spring. In that summer, we created a “formal” front yard prairie, glade beds and forest or woodland wildflower beds—all started from small potted seedlings. In the fall, we created a rain garden and began to plant native shrubs.
The second year, we built a bird-feeding station and a small flagstone patio with adjoining hummingbird trellis, added 2 rain barrels and a compost pile, and really focused on planting shrubs. In this spring, we planted 20 different shrub species (2-5 individuals each), selecting species that were specific butterfly caterpillar food sources and excellent pollinator plants. Although we got a few seedlings from the Conservation Department, we bought the majority of our shrubs in large pots (from Forest ReLeaf, etc.).
In the third year, we had a bird bubbler installed and added biodiversity to our maturing landscape beds. For people wanting to add excitement to their yards by planting natives, our landscape demonstrates what can be accomplished in a 3-year-time period. We have restored mini-versions of Missouri natural communities (prairies, glades and forests/woodlands) in our landscape. With our 125-species plant diversity, we have recorded about 100 different species of pollinators and birds that have visited our yard–by furnishing food, water and cover with native plants.
* Note on the out-of-print book published by the Missouri Department of Conservation authored by Dave, titled Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People. If you want to read the latest version from a local library with updated tables and text, check out the 2009 Revised Edition ISBN 978-1-887247-67-2, NOT the 2002 edition.
Parking Note—Limited parking at the cul-de-sac, so you may have to park several houses away. Handicapped parking in the driveway.