We used to post blogs about how to prepare your garden for the winter. This year, we ask you NOT to prepare your garden for the winter. Why? Garden birds, hedgehogs, insects and other wildlife have trouble finding the right spot to survive the winter. If we're all cleaning up our garden, there's no living space left for our beloved wildlife. So, leave your fallen leaves on the ground and postpone the garden clean-up to springtime.
Reasons why you should NOT clean up the garden this winter
1. Native bees
Bees need a place that's protected from cold and predators. Bees choose a spot that provides them with the proper protection, away from predators. Pieces of tree bark, hollow stems of plants or ornamental grasses make the right location to shelter and overwinter. We need our native bees to pollinate our fruit trees. When we remove and clean all possible shelter locations, our bees won't survive the winter. We're doing ourselves a favour by leaving the garden unattended and the way it is.
Butterflies are other important pollinators when it comes to wildlife. Most butterflies search overwinter as caterpillars and look somewhere to stay dry and safe until spring. Butterflies nestle into rock fissures, under tree bark, or in leaf litter until spring arrives and days are getting longer. If we cut down all possible shelter areas, we're eliminating overwintering sites for many of these beautiful pollinators. Stop cleaning up the garden, or our butterflies won't survive the winter, and we will have fewer butterflies next spring and summer.
3. Garden birds
Garden birds are very welcome animals in the garden because they consume thousands of caterpillars and other pest insects in the young gardening season. If you stop cleaning up the garden, this means there will be more protein-rich insects available during the coldest months of the year. By caterpillars, we don't mean the ones that evolve into butterflies, but the ones that cause pests. The more you leave your garden unattended, the more chance you will have to create a bird-friendly habitat. Leave your dead perennials, shrubs and trees intact to welcome more garden birds this winter and enjoy the beautiful melody of songbirds.
Why you should delay your garden's clean up
We recommend waiting to head out with a pair of pruning shears and a rake this winter until spring to provide wildlife with a better environment over the winter. Even though you don't see birds and insects during the winter, they're there. Do Mother Nature a big favour and save your garden clean-up until the spring. And when spring arrives, please read our pollinator-friendly tips to clean up the garden.
Pollinator-friendly tips for cleaning up the garden
In spring, many pollinators like tiny native bees and pest-munching predators are still sleeping. Therefore, we've listed up some pollinator-friendly tips for cleaning up the garden in spring:
- Avoid cleaning up the garden too early and cutting down hollow plants too early, as this might function as their shelter during overwintering.
- Toss cut perennial, and woody plant stems onto the compost pile very loosely or spread them out at the edge of the woods to maintain their shelter.
- Leave rotten apples, leftover nuts and flower stems and other small garden waste that's potential food or shelter for wildlife in the garden.
- Prune with great care, and keep an eye out for cocoons and chrysalises.
Create a natural balance
It's all about creating a natural balance in your garden. Not only will this provide shelter and food for wildlife, but this will also cost less time, less money and a lot of extra life. A natural, wild garden is more attractive to wildlife than a completely cleaned-up garden. Rushfields stocks an extensive range of wildlife products that even attract more life to your garden this winter.