About Our Wild Yard

Hey there! We’re Hal and Cristina and we’re so glad you’re here!

A baby woodchuck visiting our pond.

When we bought a run-down house in Asheville, North Carolina we had no idea we would become obsessed with native plants and creating local wildlife habitat.

We started eradicating invasive plants, constructing water sources, leaving up dead trees for cavity nesters, and planting native grasses, flowers, shrubs, and trees to provide food and shelter for our local creatures. From box turtles to rat snakes,  mantises to monarchs, spring peepers to salamanders, hummingbirds to great horned owls, and from voles to bears, what once was a lawn became a fully-functional ecosystem.

Now our little sanctuary has a higher density and diversity of wildlife than any place we’ve ever lived. We want to help you turn your own yard into a wildlife paradise. Whether you have a small apartment balcony or a hundred acre farm, the little decisions you make about your space can make a huge impact for native plants and wildlife!

Please also check out our sister website Travel For Wildlife which is dedicated to promoting sustainable wildlife travel destinations around the world, and our clothing brand Truly Wild, a sustainable clothing brand dedicated to wildlife conservation.

Why Gardening for Wildlife Matters

We as humans have become so detached from nature that we consider wilderness to be something that’s over there. Something we can go and visit if we want and then we must return to the human world. But our entire planet has always been wilderness, and it still is. Every single square inch is habitat for living things, from the middle of the biggest city, to the center of the biggest dessert, to the bottom of the deepest ocean. Life thrives in every nook and cranny if we simply give it a chance. Wildlife gardening is all about giving life a chance.

Private individuals own 61% of the land in the United States. The rest belongs to federal, state, and local governments. This is a massive opportunity, and responsibility, to take matters into our own hands. Together we can make a huge difference for American wildlife. We can re-wild our yards and ourselves at the same time. We can regain that important connection to nature that evolved over millions of years and still lies dormant within us. Once you start down this path, you’ll find a sense of deep satisfaction that fills a void you didn’t even realize was there. Get outside, plant some native plants, make a little pond, and watch the magic happen.

a monarch caterpillar in our wild yard
Watching a monarch caterpillar metamorphose into a butterfly is just one of the incredible things you can witness in your own backyard!

A Little More About Us

Cristina Garcia

I was born and raised in Barcelona and now live in the United States. Since earning my zoology degree I’ve worked with a jackal study in Namibia, a wolf project in Romania, and a cheetah and leopard tracking project in South Africa. I learned English while living in England, Scotland and Ireland which causes some Americans to be totally confused by my accent. If you meet me just pretend you understand me and we’ll be friends. I’m also on the Board of Directors of SEE Turtles, a non-profit sea turtle conservation organization. My biologist/zoologist friends call me a poologist because I am obsessed with scats. I’ll often make Hal stop the car just so I can examine a poop and see what that animal ate. It is fascinating. One of my dreams was to do a Phd in poo (probably bear poo). For real.

Hal Brindley

I’m an American conservation biologist who just completed a master’s degree Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology at University of Cape Town researching black-footed cats in Namibia. I began photographing wildlife in 1999 and have since traveled the world to see wild places and wild creatures. I spent years volunteering for various wildlife rehabilitation centers in NC and CA and have worked with sea turtles in Costa Rica, swallow-tailed kites in Brazil, cheetah and leopards in South Africa. As a photographer I’ve worked on assignment for the Nature Conservancy Magazine in Panama, RARE Conservation in South Africa, SEE Turtles in Nicaragua, and Paso Pacifico in Nicaragua. My photos and writing have appeared in magazines such as Asian Geographic, Getaway Magazine, and Ranger Rick Jr. Along the way I’ve designed a lot of websites, built a couple houses, owned a few clothing companies, and successfully avoided getting a “real” job most of my life. My happiest moments of the year are watching my expansive collection of native woodland flowers bloom each spring. My favorite backyard critters are probably our frogs and opossums. They make me smile every time I see them.

So how did we meet?

Since we lived on different continents we often get asked that question. Here’s how it happened…

A few years ago I (Cristina) was working in Dublin, Ireland as a GIS consultant. I was basically analyzing data and making maps on a computer. One day I picked up the free Dublin newspaper and there it was, an incredible photo of a leopard attacking a crocodile. At my lunch break I googled (is this even a verb?) the photographer’s name. I went to his photography page and there he was, smiling at the camera with some walruses in the background. I thought he was smiling at me so I emailed him! To my surprise, he emailed back and we started an online conversation.

A few weeks later we decided to meet up in South Africa and travel around for 7 months without ever having met or even spoken on the phone! So we met in Cape Town, bought an old 4×4 and hit the road. We had the best trip ever exploring the Kalahari desert, swimming with wild dolphins in Mozambique and tracking cheetahs in Zululand. Along the way we fell in love and after the trip Hal asked me to marry him! We moved to Asheville, NC and here we are. Crazy stuff, huh?

Hal and Cristina in Namibia during their first trip together.

Thank you again for visiting Our Wild Yard! We hope you’ll come back again soon!

-Cristina and Hal