Rally round for wildlife this Autumn

From a wild animal's point of view, our annual autumn rituals of raking leaves and cleaning up gardens are a bit of a major blow: Just when the going gets tough, we're removing prime sources of food and shelter.

Make life easier for yourself and wildlife; skip the raking, bagging, trimming, and other chores this Autumn—it might just help local wildlife survive the approaching cold weather.

Put down the rake

Fallen leaves make a great mulch for your gardens. Leave them where they fall, or, better yet, shred and spread them in your garden. This easy (and totally free) mulch will help conserve water and improve soil fertility. (For best results, make your mulch layer about two to three inches deep.) You can also add leaves to your compost pile.

Leave dead flowers and plants in the garden

Hold off on nipping and tucking your garden beds or patio container plantings until springtime: those dead stalks, leaves, and seedheads provide food and protection to wildlife. Birds will go wild for large flowers like  sedums, teasel, sunflowers, as well as zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, phlox, and dianthus.

Build a wood pile

Want an easy (and cheap) way to clear your garden of unwanted branches and twigs? Build a wood pile to provide a safe spot for ground birds, small mammals and hibernating reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Put it in an out-of-the-way corner of your property, preferably close to food sources and away from buildings. Start with a layer of larger limbs and stack branches loosely, adding grasses and leaves to create nooks and crannies. There is even chance to put up an artificial bat box. There could be a possibilityt that bats may over winter in it.

Provide water that won't freeze

As reliable watering stations dry up or ice over, water is one of the most important elements you can provide for wildlife. (Bonus: Anyone anywhere can do this, whether you have a big yard, a small patio, or even an apartment balcony.) Providing clean and accesible water close to home can save animals from wasting valuable energy, which may mean the difference between life and death on the coldest days.

Supplementary feeding

Fill your bird feeders, tables and ground feeding stations up with nourishing and energy rich foods. Once the Autumn harvest is over and insects are few garden birds will need supplementary food. Small mammals should be preparing for hibernation. You might, if not already, get a spikey visitor to your garden. Foods like cat food (non fish based) rusks and specially made hedghog food will be most welcomed.

Enjoy an extra brew, with the time and energy you have saved, and enjoy the Autumn!

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