Doing Less, Helps More: Preparing Your Yard For Winter

Wednesday, October 28, 2020
For some, this time of year is dreaded because it involves endless amounts of yard work. Raking and bagging leaves, removing fallen branches from the yard and pruning trees and shrubs. I have some great news! Ditching all of that work is actually much better for your backyard biodiversity. Many living beings have more places to live and more things to eat if put down your rake! 

Leaf litter. Photo by Heather Kerrison

So many little critters use gardens as overwintering grounds, and it is actually best you don’t clear them out! Toads and newts can often be found spending the winter underneath pots, logs and stones. Frogs are more likely to be found underneath piles of leaves. Even ladybugs overwinter in gardens, in large clusters on dead plant stems, in more sheltered parts of a garden. 

Fowlers Toad. Photo by Kristen Martyn 

Ultimately, I am here to relieve you of your duties of fall cleanup. The less you do, the more you are helping create habitat and food sources! Fallen leaves are a great shelter for overwintering pollinators and a great food source for birds- there are lots of bugs in there! If you want to tidy up your yard a bit, I recommend raking leaves into piles and then leaving them there. Alternatively, you can scatter it overtop of any garden beds you may have to create an insulating mulch layer. 

Such a wide variety of birds including Juncos, White-Crowned Sparrows and Blue Jays will all feed in leaf litter. Blue Jays use the leaves to cover their cache of nuts and acorns. All of the insects and other small animals that live within the leaf litter are a vital food source. Additionally, the leaves can hold other fallen treasures such as berries and nuts. 

Dark-Eyed Juncos are often seen foraging on the ground. Photo by Kristen Martyn.

Even piles of fallen branches and shrubbery can provide great shelter options for birds and other animals. 

Kick up your feet and do less- so that the animals can have more! And enjoy the beautiful season of autumn while it lasts.



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