Reference my earlier post dated December 5, 2016 entitled Fall Habitat Maintenance and the comment from Stephen Thomforde regarding heterogeneity as it relates to leaving the leaves. Specifically Stephen wanted to remind us that we should “manage our landscape in ways that mimic biomass harvest by grazing animals and biotic fire.”
I thought with this post I would add to the list of things to do for fall clean-up mentioned in the above referenced post.
Fall is the time to collect seed to do a winter overseeding of your prairie or gardens or a new seeding of a new area. See Winter Seeding your Prairie.
Its also a good time to plan for next spring’s cold frames to use for starting those new seedlings from the seed you’ve collected. Find a sunny spot for nurturing next spring’s seedlings and plan to sow the seed this winter. The tops of cold frames can be made from recycled sturdy old windows. Don’t forget to label the seeds you are planting!
If you have more formal gardens, don’t clean native plant flower beds in the fall. Wait until spring after hibernating insects — bees and butterflies — have left the security of the stalks and leaf beds they’ve used to overwinter. See Flower Stalks for Bees and Autumnal Equinox.
Along with the fall rains and winds come a myriad of broken tree branches. Instead of hauling them away, consider building a brush pile to shelter birds, rabbits, snakes and other wildlife from pending inclement weather and predators. The fall and winter months are also best for pruning oaks and other native trees prone to modern day disease and non-native insects.
And last but not least, late fall is the best time to conduct your buckthorn census. Buckthorn is one of the few deciduous trees that is still green into November. So now is the the time to identify buckthorn. Pull buckthorn seedlings and either cut and paint the stems of larger trees with herbicide or mark them for future removal later into the season. Make certain to include in your plans for the spring, planting native shrubs and groundcovers in the areas from which you’ve removed the buckthorn.
If you have rain barrels, this is a good time of the year to sanitize them using the last of your salvaged rainwater, and then disconnect and empty the barrels.
See also Nature Scoop September 2018 by Toni Stahl for more hints for fall maintenance of native landscaping.