In our previous blog post, we discussed some of the problems with the traditional lawn cleanup methods that involve raking, bagging, and trashing or recycling leaves. Even when it’s cold outside, the leaves that fall on your lawn play an important role in sustaining life for the upcoming bloom season.
As we begin to transition into colder temperatures and areas of the state reach peak foliage, it’s important to know how to get your yard ready for winter. Now that you’ve learned more about why lawns are so important in fall, here are a few ecological tips to incorporate into your fall cleanup checklist:
Don't touch the leaves – or at least move them gently
We mentioned in our previous post how leaves provide protection for important insects like ladybugs and caterpillars. They also add an extremely valuable mix of nutrients to your soil. According to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, tree roots can draw in more than 12 different kinds of plant nutrients from soil and deposit them in leaves. When those leaves fall on the ground and decompose, it returns to the soil as food, preparing it for a healthy and fertile warm season. Leaves can also prevent weeds from growing on your lawn.
If you do decide to move your leaves, try to do it slowly, either by hand or using a hand-tool that will not disturb insect life or damage leaf material. And if a leaf or plant has signs of disease, it's okay to move it.
Don’t remove dead shrubs or tree snags
If your yard has any dead or dying trees, it may be tempting to take them out and trash the parts so that you can plant something else in the area. But dead trees are actually one of the most important elements of a natural ecosystem. The National Wildlife Foundation says that dead trees provide a habitat for more than 1,000 different species of wildlife, including insects, fungi, birds, squirrels, and much more. For many species, snags offer shelter where they can reproduce and nurture their young. Perennials in particular can provide sustenance for birds and other pollinators.
Push back intense cleanup until it’s time for warmer season
The winter season in Massachusetts is challenging for all kinds of wildlife – not to mention the soil in your yard. The natural debris from plants, shrubs and trees helps them survive the cold so that they can thrive in the warm weather, when they will serve an important role as pollinators.
It’s fine to do routine maintenance or minor organizing that can make your outdoor space look a bit neater. But to best conserve the natural habitat around your home and prepare your yard for a healthy bloom season, don’t do any intense cleaning, raking, or pruning until the weather starts to turn warmer. This allows your yard to reap the natural benefits of the changing seasons.
Get help preparing your yard with an ecological fall cleanup in Massachusetts
If you’re worried about being able to clean your yard in an ecologically-friendly way, or you simply would prefer not to spend the time and effort preparing your yard for winter, our team at Moodscapes is available to help. We have many years of experience working with clients around eastern Massachusetts to help them get their yard ready for spring without disrupting the important ecological processes that happen during the winter – get in touch to learn more.