Leave the leaves! Fallen leaves are natural mulch and compost. They are protection for such creatures as toads and salamanders, fellow soldiers against insect pests. If you rake, wait until spring and watch out for the good guys who might be hiding.
To seed native species, wait until there’s fallen snow, then scatter seeds across the top. These plants need cold. They sink down into the snow to soften before they germinate next spring. Spread them and leave them uncovered before the ground freezes, and you will feed a variety of critters.
Fresh, open water is a scarcity in winter. An all-season water feature in your landscape is fantastic for creatures great and small. But a heated birdbath or container of water replenished every few days will do the trick.
Keep watering your vegetation until the ground freezes. New trees and evergreens especially need lots of water to get through winter.
To feed or not to feed? Birds, yes, with often-filled feeders and suet to build fat and provide energy to face winter’s cold. Feeding deer, coyotes, and larger mammals is not recommended.
About the Author
Elizabeth G Fagan is a writer and artist who resides on Lake Michigan’s shoreline in southeastern Wisconsin—a place she calls Lake Michigan’s Left Coast. She volunteered to write the monthly column “Green Talk” for the News Graphic in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. This essay is from the column’s archives.
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