Leave the Leaves for a Pollinator-Friendly Backyard

Yard Signs available HERE

 

Sometimes I wonder if bagging leaves started as a practical joke on us homeowners. As an artist and a gardener, I can tell you that getting rid of leaves is one of those suburban traditions that just doesn’t make sense.

Leaves are great natural mulch.

From a gardener’s perspective, leaves are healthy. They are Nature’s great compost, perfectly designed to enrich the roots of trees, shrubs, and flowers. They have nutrients in them that the trees draw up from deep in the soil. WHY would we throw them out?

From an artist’s perspective, leaves are no problem. They’re brown, just like mulch. They look great in your beds, around your shrubs. If your leaves look “too big,” just run the edges of your beds over a few times with a mower or put them in a shredder before you blow them into your shrubbery beds.

The entire trick to mulching with leaves is this: edges. If you can’t part with the look of neat beds, purchase a few bags of brown mulch. Mound the mulch along the edges of the beds. Six inches in, let it thin out. Take a few handfuls and scatter it into the bed so the mulch blends into the natural shredded leaves.

Take it from an artist – the human eye is mysteriously attracted to neat edges, and for some reason will ignore all kinds of messiness – if only the edges are neat.

Save money on mulch. Save money on fertilizer. Leave the leaves.

Leaves are a haven for pollinators.

 Leaves make a healthier landscape. They hold moisture. Among the leaves are the cocoons of hundreds of butterflies and moths who are natural pollinators. Along with the leaves in our beds are dry stems and pieces of wood that shelter small pollinating bees over the winter. The nutrients and microbes of leaf litter sustain thousands of insects and the small animals who eat them – snails, fireflies, lizards, birds, turtles, salamanders…

They all depend on the nutrients of leaf litter for the foundation of their food chain.

Community trends favor healthier landscaping.

Over the past few years, savvy communities and neighborhoods have been easing away from the sterile look of chemical- and maintenance-dependent turf. These neighborhoods have developed standards which allow more natural designs of native grass and wildflower landscaping. Pollinators thrive. Dragonflies flourish and control mosquitos.

The healthiest and most stress-free fall yard you’ve ever enjoyed might be yours with this one simple idea –

Leave the Leaves.

 

Help educate your community!
This infographic is available to share with your community, group or in your publication.

Yard Signs available HERE

For other inquiries, please Contact me

 

Easy and Healthy: Beating Mosquitoes and Ticks

Infographic Shows How Spraying for Mosquitoes Kills Insects Baby Birds NeedMy family is outside in the summer. A LOT.

My husband and sons are the BBQ Guys. They never met a meat group they didn’t like. I’m the Gardener, spring and summer.

The four of us share the yard with hawks, foxes, and 17 resident turtles (to date). Along with them are hundreds of small colorful songbirds, lizards and frogs, who depend on the plentiful insects and caterpillars for food. Over the past twenty years I’ve planted our small yard with layers of native shrubs and flowers which feed and shelter this wildlife.

The health of these animals depends on the presence of insects.

Safe and Effective Solutions for Enjoying Your Yard

Many chemical bug sprays that are ‘safe’ for people (non-fatal in small doses) are lethal to insects – not just the pesky ones, but to butterflies and pollinator bees as well. Our pets, too, are suffering from our chemical use. A mountain of research documents accumulated toxin loads in our dogs and cats at levels much higher than ours.

Most of us recognize that our chemical-dependent pest solutions should be phased out, not increased.

But we want to be comfortable.

For mosquito and tick season, I don’t spray my yard. I’ve found two healthy options that are not just effective for people, but safe for our birds and butterflies – and for the long-term health of the community.

Picardin Bug Repellent for Mosquitoes and Ticks

Picardin is a pepper-like ingredient with all the benefits of DEET and none of the downsides. It’s long-lasting and effective, without the heavy chemical smell or toxicity warnings. I’ve been using “Sawyer Insect Repellent,” which comes in a large lotion dispenser. It has been incredibly effective. The consumer advocate group Environmental Working Group lists insect repellents with Picardin as effective for 8-10 hours against not just mosquitoes but also ticks.

Pedestal Fan to Eliminate Flying Bugs

If you’ve ever been on a beach without a breeze, you know that the biting flies can come out in swarms. Guess what? A tall pedestal fan blowing on your grill or outside table works the same way as an ocean breeze – it drives the insects away. Consumer Reports found that just one pedestal fan (for as little as $20-50) can keep an outdoor space mosquito-free.

During bug season, it’s not hard to pick something healthy – you just have to look.

We can continue to build a healthy community – and not get mosquito bites for our trouble!!

 

For more information, go to

Environmental Working Group www.ewg.org

“Pollinator-Friendly Yards” on Facebook

 

Help educate your community!
This infographic is available to share with your community, group or in your publication.  Please Contact me