Fall Observations from a Landscape EcologistPosted on October 26, 2017
Fall comes to our landscapes. The leaves gently falling, soft rain, clean and sweet aromas of soil, crisp cool nights and bright clear daylight. Our landscapes recover and regenerate.
After the heat and humidity of summer things change. The days shorten, nights cool, rain comes... we hope...! Plants naturally conserve their resources, already planning ahead to the next growing season.
A time for rest and recharging spent energy.
Instead of energy going into producing leaves, flowers, and fruit, root development dominates.
Migrating birds who rely on berries and fruiting vines return to their distant homes to aid in propagation and pollination of our flowers and food crops. Frogs and insect-eating amphibians prepare for hibernation beneath stream bottom mud. These amphibians are essential to keeping life in balance naturally, far more so than Mosquito Squads indiscriminately killing beneficial species along with their target pests. Be careful to identify the true vector of our environmental problems…be sure it’s not really us!
How can we help improve our own health while conserving resources?
In essence: Do No Harm! Treat our landscapes with kindness and respect!
The first steps to better ecological landscape practices begin right here and now!
Jay’s Principals of Ecological Design: Fall Clean Up Edition
1) The leaves that fall are a precious gift!
Composting your leaves from your own trees to return to your property’s lawns and beds is a great practice. Don’t pay to throw away natures life, biology and fertilizer.
Plan on mulching leaves into the lawn with a mulching mower (mulching blades and closed shoot adaption).
Alternatively, rake instead of blowing. Enjoy the exercise and fresh air--what’s good for you is good for the soil! Indiscriminate blowing disturbs and removes soil particles and biology necessary for growth. There is a micro-world of life at the surface of your lawn and plant beds...do not destroy it!
Most landscape companies, unfortunately, do not provide adequate training and supervision to their crews and employees in regard to proper use of leaf blowers. We are, after all, just guys who love our tools and machines. We can’t help it…we love to blow!
2) Let microorganisms do your dirty work. Dethatching and removing dead grass in an organic lawn is unnecessary and counter-productive. The bacteria and microorganisms, the decomposers, will do just that, naturally!
3) Everybody needs to eat! Feed your plants!!
How would you like if someone planted you and forgot to water, feed and prune you?
You might suffer from neglect...
Show your landscape plants some love!
Use compost and natural source organic fertilizer for your lawns, shrubs, and trees.
Avoid guessing what your landscape needs by conducting a soil test each year. Soil amendments should be precise in their application; you can have too much of a good thing!
4) Let your perennials stand tall all fall!
Don’t cut down your perennials after they’ve bloomed. Leave them alone for overwintering insects! This is essential habitat.
This shifts the effort to spring, which is a much better time to cleanup and prepare beds.
5) Reflect on how your garden faired this season.
Now is the time to reimagine your landscape: your own experience with nature, right here in your own backyard! Create a sanctuary of biodiversity! Plant a few new things that attract the birds, the bees, and the butterflies.
Pick three of the top ten native plants and you will encourage a chain of events. Watch a profound biological shift unfold and realize a healthier, happier world within your landscape.
Who doesn’t want to see a hummingbird at home?
Learn to appreciate the wasps, the flies... all of natures creations and their absolutely essential place in our landscape environment!
It doesn’t take much to enrich, enhance and beautify your ecological landscape.