Gardening Matters

Let me make a couple of suggestions about what you can do to keep busy garden-wise while waiting for spring to come.

You can start by getting your backyard registered with the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. What a great way to get your children or grandchildren involved in learning about what wildlife need to thrive in our suburban environment. And it’s easy to do.

Simply go to the National Wildlife Federation’s website at Look for the topic heading labeled “Get Outside” in the lower right-hand part of their home page. Then click on the “Help Wildlife by Turning Your Garden into a Certified Wildlife Habitat®” link.

That will take you to a page that will walk you and your family through the certification process and allow you to apply for formal certification.

Birds and other wildlife need four essential elements to survive. These are food sources, water sources, shelter and places to raise their young. The National Wildlife Federation shows you how these requirements can be met in a suburban environment.

Together you and your children can arrange birdbaths or water pans, put up some shelter, add food-source plants in your gardens or, perhaps, make sure you have a suitable brush pile for nesting materials. There are lots of options available towards meeting the requirements for certification. Most of them are not at all difficult.

It’s a great family activity. Once you meet the basic habitat requirements you can apply to the National Wildlife Federation for certification and, if you wish, get a sign to display your accomplishment. I got over my genetic disposition towards being cheap and sprung for the fancy metal sign. It’s posted it in my front yard. I’ll admit I am a bit proud to display it.

Another thing to keep you busy is to join the “Friends of Brook Run Park Dunwoody” advocacy group. This group was formed recently to protect and preserve the natural environment of Brook Run Park in Dunwoody (full disclosure requires that I let you know that I was one of the founding members).

If you have explored Brook Run Park in recent months you will notice a number of fairly obvious problems. Trash, including dug up asphalt, construction debris and other materials have been dumped in the park.

Sometimes these dumps have been in the creeks and culverts in the park. The abandoned buildings have fallen further into disrepair. They represent an attractive nuisance and danger to exploring kids.

The theater building, a potentially great resource for school or community groups, is becoming more and more dilapidated. Sidewalks have become damaged and wooden bridges are rotting.

The city’s own study of Brook Run Park done by Arborguard states that 82 percent of the trees in the park are, at best, in only fair or poor condition— or are already dead.

On top of all these issues, the City Council adamantly stands by its plan to destroy many hundreds of trees to build a twelve-foot-wide concrete multi-use trail through the very forest that will be decimated by building that trail.

One of the first actions of the Friends of Brook Run Park Dunwoody group is to circulate a petition asking the city to change its plans for the multi-use trail. We have had more than 150 people sign that petition in just the first four days. A page has been created under the name Friends of Brook Run Park. Please check us out on Facebook (“Friends of Brook Run Park”). There is a link to the petition on the Facebook page. If you are not a Facebook user, you can still read and sign the petition at

Membership in the Friends of Brook Run Dunwoody advocacy group is cheap and easy. Membership donations are only $10 a year. Simply email ‘’ with your name/contact information and say you want to join the group.

Please consider becoming involved with the Friends of Brook Run Park Dunwoody and help us to make Brook Run a thriving, accessible, well-protected and well-preserved park for all of Dunwoody.

Jeff Coghill has been gardening in DeKalb County for more than 30 years and has probably killed at least one of each kind of plant he has tried before getting another one to thrive. He is a gardening volunteer at the Dunwoody Nature Center and works closely with members of the DeKalb Master Gardeners group. He can be reached at

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