Spring is Coming: 7 clean up do’s for a biodiverse yard

Spring is Coming

7 clean up do’s for a biodiverse yard 

Spring is Coming

7 clean up do’s for a biodiverse yard 

By Emily Jerome, Digital Engagement Assistant, National Environmental Treasure

There are many ways to help support backyard biodiversity. Show your backyard a little love with these 7 clean-up do’s for a biodiverse yard.

The change in seasons can be hectic. Shovels and windshield scrapers are no longer needed while planters and rakes are brought out of the shed. But, spring clean-up doesn’t have to be taxing on your back, wallet and local wildlife. With these 7 clean-up do’s for a biodiverse yard, your chore list will be shorter and your yard will be healthier and more nature-full.

Tip 1: Allow leaves to compost naturally

By sitting back, relaxing and leaving leaves on the ground, you can make your spring routine much easier. Instead of clearing all the leaf litter off your yard and garden beds, only remove the leaves covering your plants and let the rest compost naturally. Soil-dwelling invertebrates like earth worms will cycle leaf litter nutrients back into the soil and act like a natural fertilizer (and it’s free). By letting nature do its thing, you’ll have richer soils and won’t have to worry about blowing your back out.

Colourful autumn leaves on grass
Photo by Linda Colligan via Getty Images/Canva

Tip 2: Protect overwintering insects

Bears, ground squirrels and bats aren’t the only ones that nap throughout the winter. In fact, in your backyard, there are insects cozied up amongst the fallen leaves, brush piles and dried plant stocks and seed heads. Most notably, ladybugs hibernate in the warmth of dead plant matter and rely on fat reserves until spring. Once they emerge, ladybugs are ready to feast on juicy aphids (and protect your plants). You can be a gracious insect host by resisting the urge to clean your yard as soon as it warms up. Give insects a few weeks to wake up and move along.

Ladybug on autumn leaf
Photo by lwanyan from Getty Images/Canva

Tip 3: Avoid the use of harmful chemicals

Nature provides us with natural alternatives to chemicals if we can create a more natural yard chock-full of biodiversity. While this is no easy task, if you can avoid the use of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, your yard is often better off. Chemicals can harm vital soil-dwelling invertebrates, pollinators, snakes, amphibians and more. You may want to quickly deal with one specific issue, like an insect infestation, but it can have a negative chain reaction throughout the food chain. Chemicals can also be washed into nearby creeks, rivers and bodies of water by rainwater and seep into groundwater sources.

Worms on soil
Photo by Mvltcelik from Getty Images/Canva

Tip 4: Go green with compost

Did you know that compost can act as a natural alternative to fertilizers? In fact, many municipalities offer free compost as a result of their green bin system. Compost can also be found at gardening stores and Home Depots. If you’re extra ambitious, you can create your own compost bin in your yard (as long as your local bylaws allow for it). Coffee grounds, eggshells, wood ash and many other natural materials can also support certain plant and soil needs.

Compost bin filled with kitchen scraps
Photo by GrahamJohns from Getty Images/Canva

Tip 5: Grow native flowers, shrubs and trees

Bright coloured flowers and elegant vines line the walls of gardening stores, but what you might not know is that many, if not most, aren’t native to Canada. Non-native ornamental plants are a popular pick for hanging baskets, lattices and planters, but some are even invasive. For example, yellow clematis seeds travel from backyard oases and outcompete and choke out native vegetation. You can help increase native biodiversity and prevent the spread of invasive plants by knowing what you’re growing. Check Canada’s plant hardiness zones to find what plants are native to your region

Woman planting plants in soil
Photo by Lolostock via Canva

Tip 6: Be water conscientious

If we haven’t convinced you to grow native plants yet, let us add one more reason! Native plants are specially adapted to growing in your local climate and won’t require the special attention that non-native plants demand. What does this mean for you? Spending less time watering plants and saving more water (and keeping money in your pocket). Want to save even more? Look into investing in a rain barrel, a bin that collects and stores rainwater to use for watering gardens and lawns. Some municipalities even offer rebates if you install rain barrels and rain gardens.

Watering can water green plants
Photo by Kaboompics.com from Pexels/Canva

Tip 7: Foster backyard biodiversity

We are all unique as individuals but what might not be unique is your yard. But, there’s still hope. Take a look around your neighbourhood to see what plants are growing, and then intentionally grow different plant species. Remember that native plant biodiversity is the best kind of biodiversity. By increasing your community’s native plant biodiversity, you can help increase resistance to diseases and pests. Being unique has never been so good for wildlife!

red and yellow blanket flowers
Photo by CelsoDiniz from Getty Images/Canva