Are you mowing your meadow in the fall? Not so fast please, don’t mow, let it go till the spring!
Why? For one thing, it looks much more beautiful than stubble.
Also, there are lots of ecosystem benefits:
Seed heads have time to develop and disperse
Habitat and food is provided for wildlife: think crickets, bumblebees, turkeys, American goldfinches, hawks and owls.
Mow in the spring, just before new growth begins, 8-12” high (habitat retained for solitary bees) and, best if you can rake off the cuttings.
This is the time to protect your tree and shrub trunks from damaging deer rub. Instead of difficult and ugly plastic or metal wraps, we have a great alternative: Biodegradable jute or hemp -- heavy twine or thin rope.
Just wrap it around, barbershop pole style from about 4' high, down to near the ground. You can remove in spring or leave it to rot away.
Cheap, easy, stylish. Done.
But do it soon. The rubbing starts any day now.
If you have noticed some scary looking webs all over your trees, don't worry, it's just a late summer meal for fall webworms and they don't harm your trees. Put down the spray… their webbing will actually protect them from it.
Webworms are the harmless caterpillar form of native moths and only eat leaves that are nearing the end of their life-cycle, not new growth or buds. Because they are native, webworms have over 50 natural predators and many parasites that keep their populations in check so that you don't have to.
If you really do not want them, the best approach to control webworms is the “10-year-old boy biological control” -- poke a stick into the webbing, and pull the web and inhabitants out and jump up and down on them. Or even better, you can poke a hole leave the exposed web to become food for birds and other beneficial insects.
Saving Birds From Killer Collisions
We've all heard that sickening thunk when a bird flies into your window. Up to one billion birds are estimated to die every year in the US due to window collisions, mostly with low-rise buildings and residences.
Birds hit glass because it reflects light and mirrors the outside landscape, making it hard for birds to tell where the outdoors ends and the indoors begin. Try going outside and examine your windows from a bird's point of view at morning, noon and evening. Do they reflect trees or sky?
If so, or if they have a history of bird crashes, try these deterrents:
- Fun for kids and good for the environment: Repurpose your old CDs and turn them into hanging suncatchers, to warn birds away.
- For a much more subtle fix, purchase ABC bird tape – a translucent tape developed by the American Bird Conservancy that lasts for years, letting plenty of light in. The tape strips or squares should be spaced no more than 2-4" apart. (Birds will try to fly through larger gaps.)
- You can also create your own designs using basic craft supplies like tempura paint or window markers, again keeping the 2-4" spacing in mind.
Your Plants Are Food For Wildlife
If you see leaf damage, chances are it's the work of a beneficial insect. Bugs gotta eat too. At the sign of a hole in your plant leaf DON'T SPRAY — just take 10 steps back. Amazing... you won’t even notice it anymore.
Trees and shrubs are natural food for the caterpillars that songbirds need to feed their young. Plants are extremely resilient, being eaten is part of their job; a large percentage of leaf surface can be lost before it hurts the host plant.
So step back, hold off on the spray... and don't worry about the bugs. When caterpillars hatch, songbirds won't be far behind!