From the EGT’s Sustainable Landscaping Series, “The Ecological Benefits of the Not So Perfect Yard”
Bad Habit #5 – Autumn Garden Clean Up
Fall garden cleanup is a ritual that gardeners have been encouraged to abandon for “a not so perfect yard” that provides food and habitat for wildlife over the winter. Raking up and disposing of our leaves, chopping down dead flower stalks and grasses all contribute to our preferred manicured appearance. However, in nature, trees don’t drop their bounty at the curb for pick up, but rather they blanket the earth while providing a host of ecological benefits.
Kick the Habit Leave the leaves! They provide an insulating winter cover in the garden and break down and replenish the soil. Allow dried flower heads to stay standing in your garden. They look gorgeous against the snow, and nothing is more exciting than seeing our small, winged friends feasting upon the seed heads. Let your ornamental grasses grow tall and go to seed. They provide shelter for the insects that pollinate our gardens and feed fledgling birds and other wildlife. They also look fabulous swaying in the wind during the fall and winter months. Save your cleanup for spring, after overwintering insects have woken up and moved on.