In the BookShed: Eco-yards


Eco Yards: Simple steps to an earth-friendly landscape
Laureen Rama
New Society Publishers
March 2011

It was some kind of perfect timing that this book ended up in my mailbox when it did – particularly given the Urban Crow plan to strip our front yard this spring and re-landscape in a more “natural” kind of way. Laureen Rama’s book Eco-yards is full of practical information, tips and design advice for just our situation – people looking to get rid of non-productive, non-ecological lawn space and turn it into something ecologically and aesthetically greater.

According to Rama, “An eco-yard is a landscape — usually the grounds around a home or a building — with a full, rich ecosystem that is healthy and alive. At the very least, an eco-yard causes no harm in its presence or by its care, to the environment. At best, an eco-yard enhances and restores the natural environment.” This stands in contrast to the current North American yard paradigm involving lawns (the larger the better) which are expensive to maintain and of only limited “use” to the humans and animals who inhabit our neighbourhoods.

In Eco-yards, Rama outlines the principles behind pesticide/herbicide-free gardening, restoring healthy soil through encouraging microbes, the recipe for good compost, water-wise practices, and techniques for building yard features with natural materials. With colour pictures, a functional index and a resource section in the back – this book can either be read end-to-end, or used as a reference to ecologically-friendly yard practices. Specifically, I really appreciated the tips about turning dug-up turf into bed-edging or berms, as well as the compost-tea brewing info – two things I know I’m going to bring into my yard this year.

Beyond the nuts and bolts – whichRama includes a lot of – this is a book with an exciting premise – which is that yards and neighbourhoods in even the most urban settings can be turned into lush and healthy ecosystems. Can you imagine what our city would look like if everyone did just that?

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