It’s the time of year when our yards start looking messy. Our suburban sense of order is ruined when flowers die and leaves fall. We feel like good citizens when we clean up our messy yards so that they look tidy and taken care of. These actions are taken to keep up with our human esthetic, however it stops the natural cycles that wildlife depend on. Since our yards are more critical than ever in helping sustain wildlife, we need to rethink our human desire to tidy up in order to help those critters and plants that benefit from the fallen leaves and dead plants.
Help Bees, Butterflies and Birds
Fallen leaves provide habitat to many insects and many butterflies over the winter. They live in the nooks and crannies over winter to emerge in the spring. Our birds are dependent on healthy insect populations to live and breed successfully. Massive bird declines are attributed to falling populations of insects. You can help the birds by what you do in your own yard.
Save Resources & Nourish the Soil by Mulching with Leaves
If you have small leaves you can put them intact in your flower beds. Larger leaves can be chopped up with a mulching mower and then put in the beds. It’s the cheapest mulch you can find and the leaves return nutrients to the soil as they decay. They also and help insulate surrounding plants from the cold. Too many leaves on the grass can be mulched back into the soil by running a mulching mower over them a couple of times. Saving these precious resources helps your garden, helps the environment, and reduces carbon and the expense of having trucks pick up leaves and take them away.
Reduce Air & Noise Pollution by Ditching the Gas Powered Leaf Blowers
Raking leaves is good for you and for the environment. Gas powered blowers are extremely loud and desiccate the soil and living organisms. Humans are also negatively affected by the small particulate matters stirred up by blowers. The two- stroke engines are many times more harmful to the environment in terms of exhaust than our cars. Many landscape workers are putting their health at risk by tidying up our yards. If you have a yard service, ask them not to use blowers on your property. If you must use blowers investigate battery powered mowers which are less harmful to humans.
Supporting Nesting Sites
The last benefit to not tidying up your yard is to the pollinators who nest in the stems of dead plants. You can help the bees by only cutting your plants to 1 foot high and leaving the stems for them to nest in the next year.
Creating a New Expectation
We can change the way we expect to see yards by gardening not only for ourselves but for the wildlife in our neighborhoods. A more natural looking yard slightly messy mayCAN one day be a badge of honor.