Let’s Do Less This Spring

Wooden bench in front of pond.

Sometimes Less is More

Dreading this year’s spring clean-up? What if we told you: when it comes to property maintenance, doing less not only gives you more time to enjoy the weather, but it’s better for the environment, too?

Here are a few things you don’t need to do this spring:

  • Don’t rush to remove last year’s leaves. Each winter, beneficial insects rely on fallen leaves and other organic debris to cover and insulate them from the elements. Give these bugs a chance to warm up, grow up and do their thing by composting your leaves on-site or simply waiting until late spring to move them.
  • Don’t clear vegetation from the edges of ponds or streams. Plants and trees help filter stormwater runoff before it gets into streams or ponds which can help prevent algae blooms in the water. Their roots also help hold soil in place in times of higher flow.
  • Don’t remove fallen branches or organic debris from ponds or watercourses. While it may look tidier, wildlife like newly hatched fish and frogs rely on the shelter of branches and debris to hide from predators. Instead, consider adding habitat to your pond in the form of brush piles or rock piles — even an old Christmas tree can work!
  • Don’t clear snags from your forest (unless trail safety is a concern). While dead and broken trees can look unsightly, wildlife make homes here, too. Cavity nesters like pileated woodpeckers use broken trees to hollow out nesting areas and the decaying wood attracts bugs that help feed their growing families.
  • Don’t turn your livestock out to pasture too early. Instead, wait until plants have matured enough to restock their energy reserves. This will lead to healthier soils and more productive pastures. It’s also helpful to avoid grazing in wet pastures to minimize soil compaction, damage and erosion caused by hooves in wet soil.
  • Don’t till your fields or gardens. Healthy, undisturbed earth consists of a complex network of soil particles, microbes, water, air, roots and organic material that is ideal for plant growth and less susceptible to erosion. Tilling can compact soils and damage soil structure, which can limit water infiltration and groundwater recharge, restrict plant root growth and nutrient availability, and increase the risk of erosion and flooding.
  • Don’t remove crop residue. The organic material left behind after a crop is harvested is a valuable resource for farmers and gardeners. In spring, this residue armors the soil, protecting it from the elements. When left on site to decompose, crop residue becomes an excellent source of nutrients and soil organic carbon (SOC). SOCs provide many benefits like helping your soil retain moisture when water becomes scarce.
  • Don’t mow your lawn. We know this one might be harder to sell, but longer grass has so many benefits! If allowed to grow, grasslands can help retain moisture in hot weather and provide shelter for wildlife passing through your property. The flowers and seeds these grasslands produce also provide vital nutrition to migrating and nesting wildlife. Not ready to grow wild just yet? Consider simply mowing less often to save on fuel costs and emissions this year, or mowing less of your total lawn to make pockets of it wildlife friendly.
  • Don’t hide your wellhead or septic riser with a pretty garden bed. Roots from shrubs and trees can damage well or septic infrastructure over time, leading to costly repairs. Contaminants from garden additives like fertilizers, pesticides, improperly composted manure and even dyed mulch can have negative impacts on well water quality. Simply plant your new gardens away from these structures.
  • Don’t drain your wetlands. Wetlands are vital natural features that purify water and help prevent both flooding and drought by soaking up water when there’s a lot of it, and slowly releasing it over time. They also provide crucial habitat for many species.
Scroll to Top