In these late fall days it can almost be second nature to start tidying up the garden for winter, cutting back perennials and raking leaves. However, it’s important to leave a bit behind to provide some critical habitat for birds, pollinators, frogs, and other wildlife to get through the cold winter days.
Here are few things to consider:
Leave perennials that have seed heads as a valuable food source for the birds. University of New Hampshire extension recommends keeping echinacea, black-eyed susan, coreopsis, sunflowers, and little blue stem to name a few.
Support Xerces Society Leave your Leaves campaign by letting some leaves linger and if needed rake them into your garden beds. These leaves help insulate the ground and protect frogs that have gone into hibernation and provide overwintering habitat for many beneficial insects like moths and bees.
The one exception to this anti-tidy strategy is in your vegetable garden if you have any crops that suffered disease. It is best to remove those from the area to start fresh for next year.
Take it from the Kentucky Native Plant Society, you have worked so hard all year to promote healthy plants and animals, keep it going this winter!