Repurpose, recycle, reward
In the fall, the cozy indoors invites us to circle up around the football game and with comfort food. Now is the down season to unwind from a busy summer and regenerate. Yet, there are still fun and productive things to be done outdoors where we can breathe in fresh air and feel the fall breeze.
Autumn is an ideal time to repurpose things in your yard that you may not notice much. It’s a time to thin and prune plants and then recycle collected debris. It’s also when we can offer up some rewards to our feathered friends – and even some bushy-tailed ones – who fly overhead and flounce down the fence.
Fun things first: repurpose Pine cones and spruce cones, twigs and small branches – and even the last round of fallen leaves – can all be put to good use. Rather than ignoring or worse yet, discarding these items in the trash, take time to be creative and give them a new life. Craft stores abound with real or artificial pine cones, twigs and branches. So rather than buying them, scavenge them from your yard – or from a neighbor who is willing to share.
Use these items for fall and winter décor. Place pine cones with trimmings from evergreen shrubs in the front porch container that’s been cleaned of annual flowers. Use natural branches and twigs for texture in other arrangements. They can be left natural to enjoy as simple, minimalist elements. Or they can be painted gold or silver for holiday glitz. It’s amazing what one yard can provide.
If you have a wood-burning fire pit, fireplace or stove, make bundles of fire starters by wrapping twigs and pine cones with twine. These little bundles are an easy craft kids can make – and they are a useful hostess gift when presented in a basket to friends who have a wood-burning fire feature.
Leaves. The last of the fallen leaves will also be useful if you haven’t yet placed mulch around rose bushes or other perennials. Use them to add a layer of insulation and to help the soil retain moisture.
Recycle The number of municipalities and other organizations that accept pruning debris and leaves for composting is increasing. Green waste can easily be recycled into compost so before putting this debris in the trash dumpster headed to the landfill, check your city’s website or review this list of recycling centers.
Reward With the growing season ended, there are fewer plants, seeds and other food options available for birds and squirrels. Many different kinds of birds overwinter in Colorado, even in the mountains, but there are fewer plants, seeds and other food options for them outdoors. According to the CSU Extension, birds with access to feeders have a much higher winter survival rate during prolonged cold winters.
Providing a habitat for them by providing food and water will help them survive and make your yard an interesting place to watch all winter long.
Feeders hung from trees or fences cater to birds that won’t forage on the ground. Birds that feed on the ground will be able to pick up the seed that falls from the feeder. Both types of birds will benefit.
Also, keep bird baths filled with water – and make sure there is fresh water placed in other containers if water in the bath freezes. Place the water in an open area so birds can easily spot predators.
Designscapes Colorado is proud to be a Charter member of the ALCC’s Sustainable Partner’s program.