Not everyone is a good at landscaping. Some of us, in fact, are a little sloppy with our lawns. The Game Department says that’s a good thing, especially for wildlife. Here’s why.
As the Department of Wildlife Resources’ (DWR) Small Game Project Leader, Marc Puckett explains, “Autumn is a time when birds need cover and seeds, pollinators need the last fall nectar, and insects still need plants as hosts.” All those seeds and insects provide valuable food for birds. By leaving habitat in place, birds and pollinators will be more attracted to your property. Instead of tidying things up, leave them alone.
For starters, don’t mow everything in sight, especially fields and less manicured areas. That eliminates cover and potential food sources. Wait till spring to clean things up. If possible, leave a strip or border of taller vegetation.
Secondly, leave the leaves alone. Don’t rake and burn everything, let some leaves remain dormant. on the ground. Biologists suggest that dead leaves act as a kind of cover or blanket for dormant insects, and leaf cover can also keep the soil from eroding. Leaves on the ground can also be valuable habitat for salamanders, snails, worms, and toads. So leave your leaves or rake them up into your garden beds and use them as mulch, rather than bagging and throwing them away.
Homeowners should also consider taking it easy on the fall garden clean-up, ideally leaving garden beds intact. “When you leave the dry stalks and seed heads standing, they provide a safe place for insects to lay their eggs for next year’s cycle, and for birds to hide from predators,” biologists say. All those seed heads are full of seeds that birds can pick on through fall and winter. They are nature’s bird feeder.
Think twice about spraying. Chemicals on your lawn make a yard less healthy. Spray with insecticides only if absolutely necessary.
Simplifying your routine fall yard and land maintenance practices really can make a difference for birds, insects, pollinators, and other wildlife. Improving your fall and winter backyard habitat can be a significant step in helping to restore the wild for many species.