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Garden Photo of the Day

Wildlife Abounds in this Minnesota Garden

By Kim Charles

Various forms of wildlife call Sarah's Minnesota garden "home".

"After 8 years of gardening I feel we're finally starting to achieve some privacy and restored habitat. Hooray! When we first moved in, the tallest thing for the birds to land on were the tomato cages. Gophers and an occasional bird was the extent of wildlife. This year the yard really seemed to come to life as we now have woodpeckers, squirrels, rabbits and eek…a skunk who tried to make his home under a rain barrel. I try to take it as a compliment. Each year we take out a new section of grass deeply burying it under cardboard and wood chips. We added two such sections this summer as well as an arbor swing which is now painted. We're looking forward to enjoying the blessing of rest and watching God's artistry as snow and winds of Minnesota's winter coats the boughs and seed heads and sculpt drifts through the yard."

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  1. frankgreenhalgh 10/26/2016

    Hello there Sarah - Your story and photos clearly demonstrate how gardens add so much value (social, economic and environmental) and interest to us humans, and habitat for the local fauna. Congratulations on lovely work. Cheers from Oz

  2. lindanewber 10/26/2016

    Hi Sarah ... Fantastic job. Can't believe the difference in before and after pics. You've done a lot of work in 8 years. What did you do about the skunk? 😄

  3. user-7007816 10/26/2016

    Hi Sarah - What an amazing and beautiful space you have created. Congratulations on a job well done.

  4. wGardens 10/26/2016

    Excellent transformation! You certainly have a beautiful yard now and while doing it, added value, interest and habitat. And appreciation from your neighbors as well! Wonderful!

  5. Jay_Sifford 10/26/2016

    What an awesome job you've done! There is such a difference between a landscape and a garden; you have created a garden. Congrats. It invites a person into the space, creates excitement and reads as peaceful.

  6. user-7007960 10/26/2016

    Amazing what you have done in 8 years! Lovely ,curvaceous beds! A lot of work. I am in a new house for five years now, trying to make it less severe and stark empty yards. Bordering a golf course, I can't block the peaceful view... I am trying the cardboard method of killing grass, to roto till in the Spring. I will be 77 then, and rely on help a bit. So, slow progress. Keep up the wonderful progress you have made! Beautiful and lush for animal friends and all others!

    1. user-7007076 10/27/2016

      Good luck with your gardening adventure. Cardboard is such a great method. I just scrape back the mulch and plant.

      1. user-7007960 10/27/2016

        I did not put mulch down, only rocks to hold cardboard. Does the cardboard sorta rot and get soft, to plant thru it? Then, you don't rototill?

        1. user-7007076 10/28/2016

          I get free wood chips from a tree trimmer dropped off in my yard. I'll out a layer of heavy cardboard or two of the average cardboard then bury it under several inches of chips. If I wait from spring to late summer or summer to next spring it'll be rotten. I will then pull back the chips, chop the soil with a shovel, and plant. However, if I wait a month further the roots will be composted and very easy to plant into.

          1. user-7007960 10/28/2016

            Thank you Sarah, you have encouraged me! Keep up your good work and enjoyment. You have much to be proud of. Your neighbors reap the benefits also.

  7. jagardener 10/26/2016

    I am glad that you showed the before pic. It shows what a really good job you have done.

  8. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/26/2016

    My, my, you have done so much and it is all so very pretty. Love all that you have accomplished.

  9. DeeinDe 10/26/2016

    It looks wonderful, Sarah! You should be proud of all you have accomplished. I bet the birds and wildlife love it.

  10. Chalis2 10/26/2016

    Wow, Sarah, what a beautiful transformation! I love those lush flower beds at the front of your house. They make for wonderful curb appeal! How nice, too, that you've added an arbor swing so that you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. You certainly have lots of beautiful things to look at...

  11. greengenes 10/26/2016

    What a wonderful change Sarah! It sure did turn into something very special! So glad you sent in a "before and after" photos!I enjoyed seeing your sense of movement and flow that you have created as you stroll through the beds. Awesome job! And i sure can imagine what it must look like when it snows! Enjoy!

  12. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 10/26/2016

    Hi Sarah, it's great to see your garden again. Your trees are putting on some height and all of your pollinator plants are doing great. Did you have many butterflies this year? It just so wonderful to reclaim barren grass and make it a hospitable environment for creatures other than lawn grubs! Beautiful AND good for the environment!

    1. user-7007076 10/27/2016

      Yes, I am starting to see some new butterfly species. I've started planting flat leafed parsley the past two seasons as you'd recommended in a post. Thanks for the compliments!

  13. thevioletfern 10/26/2016

    Bravo! I love gardening for wildlife and you have created a wonderful habitat here. I also love blank, "dead" before photos. Just look at that transformation! Tree plantings! Does a heart and soul so good. I love it, love it, love it!

    1. user-7007076 10/27/2016

      Yes, green really does do good for the soul!

  14. Annek 10/26/2016

    Love the transformation! Your garden beds are welcoming, cheerful and visually enticing. Beautiful

    1. user-7007076 10/27/2016

      Thank you :)

  15. Schatzi 10/26/2016

    What a transformation - from barren ground to lush park! Lots of work, but a great job. Beautiful.

    1. user-7007076 10/27/2016


  16. user-7007498 10/26/2016

    Wonderful transformation, Sarah. Moving away from the ecological desert that is called "the lawn" is a great thing to do. You are developing a landscape for wildlife to share with you. Nice mixture of textures and shapes. Love the many sedums. Look forward to updates in the future.

    1. user-7007076 10/27/2016

      Isn't it amazing how much plants improve the health of soil, let alone all the critters they bring in! Thanks for the compliments!

  17. Cenepk10 10/26/2016

    Whoa !!!!!! That is so gorgeous!!!!!! Same here. Nothing- These people lived on this property 22 years & never planted a shrub ! I dont trust ANYONE who want plant anything- But- I digress ! So lovely what ya'll have done. It's a slow and grow process to start from scratch. I'm sure you've revised your plans a few times. What a tremendous paradise you've created for the wildlife. It does indeed give pleasure to provide for God's sweet lil creatures. I so enjoyed reading your intro & you sharing your Garden !!!! Thank you !!!!

    1. user-7007076 10/27/2016

      Thank you!

  18. wittyone 10/27/2016

    Oh, I love before and after pictures. Yours show what can be accomplished with some hard work, planning and perseverance. It's looking beautiful. Send more pictures next year so we can see the continuing improvement.

    1. user-7007076 10/27/2016

      I will try to do. It is fun looking back isn't it :) Thanks!

  19. Meelianthus 10/27/2016

    What a beautiful job you have done with your gardens. I love your selection of so many different plants and the way you have placed them. You will be enjoying your labor for years to come watching each season in your arbor swing. Happy gardening!

    1. user-7007076 10/27/2016


  20. User avater
    Linda on Whidbey 11/02/2016

    Sarah, I'm a bit late to comment here but I just wanted to add my congrats on what a lovely improvement you've made to what was a boring yard. Your neighbors must really appreciate it and, hopefully, you've been an inspiration to them. Thanks for sharing.

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