Nurturing Your Inner Garden - Roxana Roshon, Naturotherapist, Ph.D.

Nurturing Our Outer Garden

Posted March 2, 2024

It’s been almost thirteen years since Steve and I owned and used a lawn mower. Does this surprise you?

In 2008, I took several permaculture and forest gardening courses through The Living Center, southwest of London. Plus, I read profusely on these topic as this was part of my exploration to find next steps on my life path. This lead to 2011 when Steve and I used sheet mulching to convert our boulevard from grass into a herbal ecosystem. The process is relatively easy, in which layers of cardboard and / or newspaper are used to smother the undergrowth. To optimize this process, Steve went to Leon’s and The Brick for empty large appliance boxes. We both removed the staples and packing tape before wetting the flattened boxes. We laid the moistened paper products on the monocultured lawn that was ready for transformation. 

Then, we planted herbaceous perennials in the layer of soil mixed with compost on top of the cardboard. These perennials, including bergamotboragecallendulacomfreyconeflower, and yarrow, enjoyed their new environment and continue to flourish and change every season. In subsequent years, we also created polyculture areas throughout our 50′ x 100′ property. 

We engaged with some of our neighbours and dog walkers who were curious about these easy to maintain, colourful, and ecologically relevant changes. Several times, we also met with the Healthy Landscapes technician. Since posting a “Pollinator Habitat” sign on our boulevard, our neighbors’ curiosity has increased. Check out the City of Guelph Healthy Landscapes list of native and drought tolerant plants, which support local wildlife and require minimal inputs. Feel free to reach out to Healthy Landscapes to book a 45-min visit consultation and learn more about your urban space. 

The land we steward is constantly evolving. After the removal of the ash trees in January 2019, we planted a redbud (which bloomed last spring) and a Kentucky coffee-tree

Why would we get rid of our lawn mower? Here is a short history lesson of the freshly mowed lawn. The classical lawn evolved in Europe over five hundred years ago when grazing mammals kept the meadow plants short. The manicured lawn later became a status symbol for wealthy landowners. Lawns were rejuvenated in North America in the late 1940s and 1950s. Lawns make less ecological sense in North America because of soil and moisture conditions. Curious? Read more… There are permaculture principles that can be incorporated to produce a more conventional mowed lawn. 

The sunshine and warm weather of March always stimulates my desire to garden. Do you share this passion for growing plants? How are you nurturing our mother earth? Please reach out if you want some new plants for your garden or if you have questions. 

Nurturing our inner and outer gardens,