OCT 30, 2021
Re-think Fall Cleanup: Less Work & a Healthier Yard!
The problem is not too many leaves.
ο»ΏIt's too much lawn.
Those beautiful autumn leaves are also a highly valuable natural resource once they hit the ground. They naturally break down to make healthier lawns and healthier soil; and they are essential winter habitat for birds, bees, butterfly and moth caterpillars, and other wildlife. Disposing of leaves is not only a lot of work β€” often involving extremely polluting and loud leaf blowers β€” it's also destructive to our ecosystem.

Thankfully, more and more property owners are choosing to leave the leaves. Here's how:

🍁 Leave them where they naturally fall.

🍁 Rake leaves on your lawn into garden beds, around perennials and shrubs, and under the drip line of trees as free, insulating, and nourishing mulch.

🍁 Shrink your lawn and create a new or expanded planting bed: Pile the leaves in an area where you want to kill grass to make space for more native plants β€” with no backbreaking grass removal involved!

🍁 Create a leaf pile in an out-of-the-way spot for a supply of free mulch or compost material for next spring & summer.

🍁 Break out the rakes and talk to your landscapers about steps they can take right now that will give you a healthier yard, reduce noise and particulate pollution, and protect landscape workers.

🍁 As a last resort, mulch leaves on the lawn by mowing over them so they can break down and enrich the soil β€” keeping in mind that this will kill bees, fireflies, and butterflies that are already among those leaves, getting ready to overwinter.
Boost Your Health with a Forest Walk
By Kirsten Wallenstein
Madison Environmental Commission Member

Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing, is the Japanese practice of spending time among trees. Many studies show the benefits of connecting with nature.

  • Boost your energy. Taking a daytime walk outdoors re-energizes your body and resets your circadian clock, leading to better sleep at night. 

  • Lower anxiety levels. Various studies have shown that being in nature reduces stress levels and lowers blood pressure. 

  • Improve mental focus. Whether at the office, at home or after school, a walk in the woods positively affects memory and attention.

It can be challenging to find a place for a restorative walk with the constant barrage of leaf blowers, vehicle traffic and noise of a developing town like Madison. Fortunately, Madison has a number of wooded green spaces.

One place to take refuge is the Drew Forest β€” 53 acres of wooded land where students and residents can get their daily dose of nature restoration. Visit this irreplaceable oasis and soak in visual beauty, fresh air, bird songs and crunchy leaves, as well as aromatherapy from native plants. Your body and mind will thank you.
Keeping it Sustainable with Fall Decorations
Check out these sustainable tips for your fall decor.

  • Decorate with nature and bring the outside in! Use pumpkins, gourds, leaves and twigs.

  • Place your mums and biodegradable fall decorations in the your yard waste. Remove the pots first!

  • Recycle your pumpkins at the DPW Recycling Center. Please do not recycle pumpkins with paint or varnish. The Recycling is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Native Plant of the Month: Asters
Asters are a superb native alternative to mums. And they return every year! There are many varieties to brighten your fall landscape and attract pollinators β€” allowing you to choose based on color and appearance, bloom period, and light requirements.

Once established, their deep roots mean less watering, and they help with erosion control. In winter, asters provide food and habitat for birds and small animals that feast on the seeds, and beneficial insects take shelter in the dried stalks.
Plant asters now to enjoy their beauty and environmental benefit for years to come! Where to buy:

Open through Sunday, 10/31.
The preserve is a lovely place to visit!

Order online for delivery or for pickup in Frenchtown, NJ.

Order online for delivery.
How to Grow Fireflies for Next Summer
If you love seeing fireflies, a.k.a lightning bugs (who doesn't?), be aware that right now the larva for next summer's fireflies are among the fallen leaves in our yards, where they will overwinter if you let them.

Leaving the leaves allows them to complete their life cycle.

Discarding leaves trashes not only fireflies, but also overwintering bees, butterfly caterpillars, and moth caterpillars that are a vital food source for birds.
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