All photos by Katherine Montgomery

My yard was an explosion of weeds this spring – a superbloom of grasses, oxalis, and chickweed, mixed with native Phacelia, Gilia, and Achillea from seeds I sowed a couple years ago. It was a wild, ephemeral mess that looked great for about a month before turning to dry straw.

I find weeding is one of the most satisfying activities after a long day at work; yanking up clumps of nasty brome grass and getting large amounts of dirt under my fingernails is gratifying and productive at once. This weekend I finally got around to cleaning a few piles of weeds I had left around the yard. As I scooped them up, I discovered a wriggling mass of life underneath: doodlebugs, spiders, worms, and massive amounts of earwigs that had already begun the work of breaking down the debris.

I often marvel at the life that exists in my small yard, and quietly observing its movements and changes is an important part of my weekly meditation. I have a couple of trapdoor spiders whose hairy legs I occasionally glimpse in their tunnels. There is a feral honeybee hive in a retaining wall. Great swallowtail butterflies flutter through regularly. The earwigs that eat my compost feed the canyon towhee family that lives in the bougainvillea.

In the couple years I have lived in this house, I have worked to support this system by planting native, enlivening the over-compacted soil with compost, and providing food, water, and shelter to wildlife. The small system that exists in my yard is a reflection of the larger ecosystem of Los Angeles. I like to think my little plot of land, which gives so much back to me, has contributed to the larger biodiversity hotspot that is Los Angeles.


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  1. What Wildlife Can Tell Us About Our Shared Landscape | AHBE LAB

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