Keeping Pollinators and Wildlife Safe in Your Fall Garden
The fall season is here again, it’s amazing to think that we were just the other day getting ready and making preparations for the spring and summer months but now it’s on to the fall. For some of us, the spring and the summer months were busy with so much to do in our gardens from installing those flower beds and shrubs to ensuring that are edible gardens produce the best crops ever, etc…
But now the fall months are here which means it is time to do some spring cleaning in preparation for the winter months just ahead, but as we make our to-do list for our fall garden cleanup let’s remember the many pollinators and wildlife that pays our gardens a visit and even stay for a while. Yes, there is much to do in our fall gardens but let’s be kind and make sure that as we do our fall garden cleanup our gardens still provide a place or harbourage where pollinators and wildlife can continue to feel safe.
Cleaning Your Annuals and Perrinals
A clean-up of our annuals and perennials can be visually appealing by removing dead flower stalks and foliage, but remember the goal is also to help wildlife during the winter months. Instead of removing dead plant material allow most or all of it to remain because this material can be used as a habitat for many beneficial insects including pollinators.
Many of these insects may also lay their eggs in the plant material that is allowed to remain, some butterfly species will pupate and spend the winter months using dead plant material as shelter.
Flower stalks (seed heads) that are left such as marigolds, black-eyed Susan, Joe Pye weed, purple coneflowers, etc… can provide a food source for many bird species. Insects that also overwinter in this dead plant material can be a food source for adult birds as well as their young.
Diseased plant material should never be allowed to remain, removing diseased material will help to discourage the spread of disease so when spring arrives again you can start with a healthy garden that is thriving.
The removal of weeds during your spring garden cleanup is of great benefit, weeds that are removed will not re-seed meaning new seeds won’t spring or germanate during the early parts of spring which will help to manage when they start to pop up. Another reason for the removal of weeds besides giving a garden a nice and clean polish look is that weeds can also become a harbourage for garden insect pests to overwinter and then emerge once the warm season returns. Weed removal can help expose garden insect pests to winter chills killing them off. Some leaves can also be carried off and placed in the corner of your garden, this leaf pile can also attract wildlife to use this pile as a harbourage once winter arrives.
Provide for Wildlife
Creating a brush pile for wildlife is a great way to show support during wintertime, Once shrub clippings are collected make a brush pile at the corners of your yard. Shrubs and tree branches can be placed over the pile for protection and warmth. Providing a bird feeder will help wildlife when it comes to finding food because sometimes it’s hard for wildlife to find food during this time of the year. Ensure each day that the bird feeders have food, a watering station or hole is also ideal for example a bowl of water. make sure to check the water each day and change it if the water has frozen overnight. A birdbath however that has a warmer will help to keep the water from freezing.
Allow Leaves to Remain
Too many leaves left on the lawn can actually smother and kill the grass so it’s best to remove the leaves and rake them into your garden bed, as the leaves break down will return nutrients back into the soil. Some of the leaves can be left on the lawn however and then mowed into the lawn this action will recycle nutrients, leaves that are carried away can be added to your compost so when the warmer season arrives you can use this compost to add to your flower, herb and vegetable garden.
Fallen leaves on the soil or lawn surface have it’s benefits but a build-up of leaves can also have a negative impact, leaving some leaves however will benefit wildlife and some pollinators for example many species of butterflies and moths will overwinter in the leaves. A layer of leaves will provide insulation for many small animals including frogs and lizards during the colder months.
Let Your Lawnturf Grow
We all know that a lawn that’s maintained at the proper height looks amazing but consider letting your lawn turf grow a little longer instead of cutting it at the desired height. The reason for this is that soil caterpillars and other bugs that help to enrich the soil can take cover in this area, for the final cut of the season before winter sets in cut your lawn high and allow the clippings to return to the soil to recycle nutrients back into the soil for your lawn turf.
Plant Bulbs for Pollinators
Planting bulbs in the fall will provide nectar for pollinators early during the spring months, for more on how to plant and care for spring bulbs a link has been provided for you.
Don’t Forget Your Vegetable Garden
We certainly can’t forget our vegetable garden, inspect your vegetable garden and look for signs of rotten or dead veggies and remove them from your garden. Remove debris as well because bugs and diseases can overwinter in these places. Weeds should be eliminated as well because weeds can be a hiding place for garden insect pests. Weeds also compete with garden plants including vegetables for sunlight, water, and nutrients. Weeds that are left can germinate in the fall and resume growing during the spring months.
The final word on protecting pollinators and wildlife in fall garden cleanup
Doing a fall garden cleanup calls for ” striking a balance” so to speak, which means compromising a bit to ensure that pollinators and wildlife are cared for so they can survive the harsh winter months. Our fall garden cleanup offers so many opportunities to give nature a helping hand so let’s do that as we plan our fall garden cleanup because nature needs our help and our support.
About the author
Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.