Fall Wildlife Garden Chores

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The colors, the wildlife activity, and the cooler temperatures work together to get me to grab binoculars and camera and head outdoors. And:

Autumn is also the most frustrating time of the year as the sound of leaf blowers fills the air, disturbing the beauty of this season.

And those paper bags full of leaves begin to stack up along the sidewalks in my neighborhood.

That’s right. It’s the season for fall garden chores, or NOT if you’re a wildlife gardener. Over the years, my team members and I have written about fall garden chores from a different perspective than you may see in traditional gardening magazines.

Vincent Vizachero describes how “cleanliness” in the wildlife garden may be a bad idea:

The mowing of grasses, the pruning of perennials, the raking of leaves, and replacement of mulches are all common but deadly gardening practices. For birds, butterflies, bees, and other animals these “clean up” activities quite literally mean death.

Gail Eichelberger asked the question Does Neatness Matter in the Wildlife Garden?

To answer the question~“Does neatness matter in a wildlife garden? To us, maybe, to the beautiful wildlife that visit, absolutely not! As long as we provide   food, water and shelter/cover, we’ll have a beautiful garden for them.

Pat Sutton wrote eloquently about fall garden chores and how our wildlife friends would be much better off if we relaxed these chores a bit. Don’t miss her funny description of the woodland elves dancing around the forest to clean out ponds!

Kathy Green has also written about tidy wildlife gardens, and given a great series of thought-provoking questions to make wildlife a priority in our gardens. When you think about your answers to each of these questions, you will be able to create more welcoming habitat for wildlife in your garden.

Debbie Roberts says about Fall Garden Cleanup:

It’s not hard to find a standard list of gardening chores to do before putting your garden to bed for the winter. The problem with some of the lists is that many of the chores, while well-intentioned, can actually be harmful to all sorts of local wildlife that rely on your garden for their very existence.

Many different kinds of wildlife rely on the leaf litter, plant stems, or fallen wood to survive the winter:

And what is the value of leaves?

If you want to attract wildlife to your garden and provide the habitats they need to survive the winter, you want to take a more relaxed approach to fall garden chores. And since the sole reason I garden is to invite wildlife to share my space with me, I am the Lorax, I Speak for the Leaves! 

How about you?

Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.

© 2012, Carole Sevilla Brown. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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  1. Carole says

    Spotted my first swamp sparrow of the season in my backyard this morning. Your migrants are arriving on the Gulf Coast.

  2. Joey says

    Well said, I keep Natural Habitat, started with major Ice Storm middle 80’s, I noticed all birds under ivy around the fence/hedges. That reminded me of the saying “His eye is on Sparrow” now they have more places to hide, nosh and rest. Fish pond for family fussing and gathering. I watch birds teach their nestlings to fly, bathe and eat, what gift to observe from afar.


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