Connecting With Nature in My Own Backyard

Even those of us committed to fighting climate change may not always feel personally connected to the issue, especially if we live mostly inside. It is easier to feel connected to the fight to stop climate change if we feel connected to the natural world we are safeguarding.

A recent study from the National Library of Medicine confirms the connection between being in nature and wanting to protect it. Living in Colorado makes this easier as we are a state known for many outdoor activities and an active lifestyle.

But for those of us living in the city and with disabilities, going up to the mountains for the weekend can be challenging, especially if we rely on public transit and other methods of transportation. With this in mind, I wanted to find out if/how nature is present in backyards, as this space is most accessible for me. 

I live with cerebral palsy (CP) and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) which make balance, vision, and traveling more difficult. I also live in a city, which makes it challenging to take advantage of greenspace frequently.

I wanted to know how I could connect with nature in my backyard, what accessibility issues I would encounter, and what I learned about nature in the process. 

Nature in my own backyard

My backyard was easy to access and wouldn’t cost anything. Though the space was limited, I was still able to find nature in this small area. I also went out during the day when I could see best. I spent about 20 minutes in my parents’ yard, trying to intentionally take in the plants and other nature around me.

Here is what I noticed:

The weather does not always cooperate (and that’s okay).

 I had an idea of the picture-perfect day to take photos for this post. Given Denver’s reputation for lots of sunshine, I thought this would be easy, but it rained off and on in the neighborhood all week.

Especially for city dwellers, because we often spend time in temperature-controlled rooms inside, it is easy to ignore the weather and change the temperature to fit our comfort level.

However, in the natural world, we have to be willing to make adjustments to ourselves (dressing appropriately for the weather and coming prepared.) This will become even more relevant as climate change continues to make weather more extreme (On the bright side, the rain meant lots of plants were green and blooming!)

The Bee Garden

While the grass in many yards does not encourage biodiversity, there were still many plants in this yard that caught my attention. First was the garden, which contained a bee-friendly section with catmint (which is very beneficial for pollinators), among other plants: 

Pollinator garden in the backyard

Pollinator garden in the backyard


Planting a bee garden is one of the things people living in cities can do that has a positive environmental impact just by using an outdoor space they already have. Planting plants that provide food for bees encourages the pollinators’ survival.

But pollinator gardens are not just important for the pollinators themselves; they have impacts on humans as well. According to The Bee Conservancy, bees pollinate a third of the food humans eat, including almonds, apples, and onions, among others.

Thus, by planting pollinator gardens and connecting with nature in other ways, humans are not just protecting nature as a separate entity. We are ensuring our own survival as well.

Several yellow dandelions and a bare stalk surrounded by grass

Several yellow dandelions and a bare stalk surrounded by grass


There were also a few dandelions in the yard. Even though dandelions are seen as a weed, they are also important for bees. An Associated Press article notes: “The flowers are an important food source for pollinators — especially bees.”

“Dandelions provide both pollen and nectar.” This proves that even unlikely plants we can find in our own backyards have a role to play in keeping nature thriving.

Nature in my childhood

Spending a little time outdoors also reminded me of my outdoor experiences as a child. For example, I am very familiar with the smell of lilac because the lilac bush in my childhood yard was a favorite hiding spot during hide-and-seek. 

A bunch of purple lilacs on a lilac bush

A bunch of purple lilacs on a lilac bush


On Mother’s Day growing up, my dad, brother, and I would cut a few lilacs to go with mom’s breakfast in bed. Spending even a short time outside was enough to bring these memories back; as a city person, it is helpful to be reminded that some of my childhood was rooted in nature too.

Accessibility Issues

While my backyard is accessible for me overall, one thing didn’t work so well: An article I read suggested walking barefoot while outside. While this did create more to feel, it was also an accessibility issue for me as I use insoles for extra support when walking.

While walking barefoot may add to some people’s nature experience, I would advise against it if you need extra stability when walking or if you use a mobility device that would make walking barefoot impractical.

If you do choose to walk barefoot, make sure to do this in an area you know is safe and where you will not step on anything dangerous. 

Last Thoughts:

In doing the exploring and research for this post, I was reminded that a little time outdoors can go a long way, and even in my own backyard, nature is present and in need of protection. I hope to work on developing a relationship with nature more over time.

Being involved with 350Colorado is one of the things that helped me renew my commitment to environmental issues and got me thinking about improving my own connection to nature and ways to improve it.

This will be an ongoing process for me, and while 350CO does not currently have direct contact with nature programs, there is still lots to get involved in.

350CO has also been very accessible for me thus far, as it is easy to attend meetings online, and I was matched with committees that matched my interests and let me use my writing skills.

Headshot of Monterey smiling, sitting in a chair

Photo Credit: Lindsay Clark 2022

About the Writer:
Monterey Buchanan


Monterey Buchanan is a Colorado native, climate activist, feminist, and writer who enjoys writing fiction, plays, and blog posts both to entertain and draw attention to social issues. To read more of her writing, visit her personal website and Facebook page.