Written By Brendan Murphy.

Posted on March 22nd, 2018.

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This is the first blog in a series that shares the experiences of a new woodlot and lawn owner as he tries to make his small corner of the world a little better for wildlife.

For most of the last 15 years I’ve lived in urban or suburban apartments with little control of the nature – or lack thereof – outside my window.

Now I have a house. It’s small, but it’s in a relatively rural neighborhood that’s quiet and secluded.

And the most exciting part? It has a huge yard and a small woodlot. The property is about 2 acres.


Looking off my back deck at the large lawn and woodlot.

That may not seem like a lot to many woodlot owners, but I’m learning that even a couple of acres is an intimidating amount of space. What do you do with it all? A good place to start is setting goals.

Mine were simple enough. I want to see more wildlife. I want the property to look nice. I want a little more privacy. I want to make sure my woodlot is healthy. I want to get things from it, like berries or firewood or material for projects. I certainly don’t want to waste time mowing that huge lawn. And mostly, I just want to do the right thing.

Sounds easy enough, right? Not quite. Sure it takes no work to not mow the lawn, but making it look nice? That’s a different story. It takes planning, and it can take years to balance looks with wildlife value.

Of course, I find that challenge fun. If you don’t have fun turning it into something you want, you’re doing it wrong.

Another part of the fun? Discovering all the new things that appear. If you pay close attention, you’ll see something new nearly every day. And if you keep track of what’s going on with some photos or a nature journal, you can look back on how much you’ve learned and accomplished.

A lot can be done in just the first year. I started in April with a typical suburban lawn – neat, tidy, and sterile. Only a few birds could be happy here: robins and European starlings come to mind.


April: The lawn is barren, with little wildlife value and no aesthetic appeal. There’s no food or cover for animals, so they stay away.

Fast forward 6 months, and my property has completely changed. Wildflowers are everywhere. I’ve seen tons of different species of plants, insects, and birds. My backyard went from silent and empty to a dynamic burst of colors, textures, sounds, and smells.


June: My lawn has become a mini-meadow. Native grasses are tall and lush. Aspen seedlings are shooting up.


September: Native asters and goldenrods cover my mini-meadow in white and yellow blooms.

How did I make these changes? I share how over the coming months and years as I post my experiences as a first time woodlot and lawn owner. You’ll learn about the projects I’m trying, and the successes (and failures) I’m having along the way. You’ll get to experience the surprises, the challenges, and the fun right alongside me. Stay tuned for the next one!

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