Making the Signs for Naturalized Areas


We recently decided to demarcate some of many accidental meadows across Windsor with these Naturalized Area signs. In hopes that these signs might momentarily allow residents of Windsor to look at these naturalized spaces for what they are—that is, wonderful additions to our urban landscape—instead of the result of a politically-charged issue, we spent the earlier part of this week designing the signs, getting them printed, drilling holes, and installing them.

the sign being designed

After a conversation on the blog, Steven, Danielle and I spent Monday visiting FastSigns for a quote, Home Depot for some supplies, and then a few hours working with the design for the signs.

Steven at the computer

Steven worked on the design, trying to keep it looking kind of official, but ultimately a lot more playful than anything the city would likely do on their own. The idea wasn’t necessarily to try to trick people into thinking the city put the signs up, but rather just to insert something into the city’s spaces to try to get people to think differently about what they’re seeing.

Detroit skyline

After some discussion, it became imperative to add a silhouette of the Detroit skyline.


We worked for a while with the colours, but finally settled on the design above.

the email

The email sent off to the FastSigns, who printed it very, very fast—as in, less than 24 hours we picked up the signs.


After we picked up the signs, we started drilling holes to attach the signs to the green fence poles we picked up from Home Depot. The poles are usually used for a type of fencing (not chain link, but something else).

sign drilling

We didn’t exactly have the right tools, but we did some approximate measuring and started drilling the holes.


We attached simple 1/4″ bolts.

sign drilling

The sign itself started to bow, so we needed to finesse the bolts.

nut + washer

Hand-tightening didn’t work.

we need real tools

So we switched to some tools, which weren’t ideal, but did the job.

test install

Then we did a test install at Lebel.

test install

Again, not the right tools, but a large piece of wood seemed to be okay.

lining things up

Back to the signs with a bit more precision in measuring.


Drilling was thankfully very easy.


Josh held down the sign, while I drilled. We bolted the first hole to keep us aligned for the second.

the sign

The print on the front of the signs did lift a bit around where the bolts went in, likely due to over-tightening.

Josh and Danielle

Danielle and Josh added bolts to the other signs.

the signs finished

Our completed signs! Each sign cost about $50 in total.

the area

This was the first area, along Huron Church, across from the University’s Naturalized Area.

on site

Steven and Josh went to install the sign, while Danielle stood as lookout.

Josh and Steven

We debated between the brick and the wood.

pounding in the sign

Ultimately, we went with the wood, I finished getting the sign into the ground.

the sign

The sign as installed.

Steven, Danielle, and Josh

Steven documenting the sign, while Danielle and Josh admire our work.


The next location was the Paterson Park in Sandwich. Though one end of the park has a playground, the other is just a great sprawling field, a perfect spot to keep naturalized after the strike finishes.

Steven using a brick

Thing time we were equipped with a brick wrapped in newspaper, which worked perfectly.

the sign at the park

The sign, as installed at Paterson Park.

Steven photographing

Steven documenting with CUPE’s sign in the background.

another place

Another potential site, but maybe not visible enough—this is the park on the corner of Huron Church and University. There was a patch strangely mowed in the middle of the park.

sign at the riverfront

Since Riverside was closed for construction, we took advantage of being able to install comfortably and put this sign in the meadow at the top of the slope that leads to the riverfront.

sign at the riverfront

The sign as installed at the top of the slope. This could be a great place, seeing as no activity usually happens at the top of the slope, and that’s key. We didn’t want to put these in places that would benefit from being mowed again (eventually), instead, we hoped to suggest spaces that could be interesting to keep naturalized.

the sign + the bridge

The Ambassador Bridge in the background, with our sign in what could hopefully remain a naturalized area. We have one more sign, we’re still deciding where to put it.

12 Replies to “Making the Signs for Naturalized Areas”

    1. we missed you! glad you’re back in town, much to do and plan! oh, and you’re installation down the street, is it 410 Pelissier (?), looks great! I like your duct tape hanging shelves.

  1. Aw man!
    As great as I would have imagined.
    Are there still 2 more signs to install? (or did I miss one of the subtitles?)

    1. There’s just one more to go. Last I checked the one on Huron Church was still up, plus the one at Paterson Park, and then the one at Riverside. Not sure where the last one will go just yet—any ideas?

  2. Not particularly, but I’m probably not quite as familiar with Windsor as you guys. Umm, I know I already brought up Jackson Park, but I think it could be nice. I remember seeing pretty lengthy grasses near the main entrance. I think it gets a considerable amount of foot traffic.

  3. this is a great idea.. im gonna be very sad to see the long grasses on riverside drive cut when the cupe people go back to work, i really wish there was a way to get the Ganatchio trail to remain natural, please make sure some of these signs end up out here on the east side if possible!!

  4. I got so excited when I heard that BCL did this project! The naturalized city was something I was dreaming up last summer and was amazed to see it come to life. The irony, of course, was the means by which it occurred. Either way, it happened, and based on the many positive letters in the Windsor Star, people ate that shit up!

    I’ve been here all summer doing snake research, if I’d have hooked up with you earlier, I would have been all over this project. Great work BCL, I really applaud your fresh, positive, though provoking activism. I look forward to hearing what’s next..


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