1. Choose to grow perennial wildflower beds rather than lawn grass
wherever possible. This will provide food for insects and birds, and it will allow the
soil to become less compacted.
2. Mow lawns less frequently so that the grass is a little
shaggier. This will allow more organic matter to decay near the top layers and more
wildlife will use yard areas. People who have stopped mowing beneath young oaks have
noticed a big increase in the growth rate. The tree roots can increase their nutrient
uptake as the soil becomes loamier and begins to hold more water.
3. Leave lawn clippings on the lawn. This will encourage a more
natural cycle of nutrient flow.
4. Where possible, choose woodchuck mulching over bare ground or
short mowed grass.
5. If trillium, bloodroot, Dutchman breeches, toothwort, spring
beauties, etc. are still surviving in your yard, do not mow until these plants have
flowered and begin to brown up. This mowing delay will allow wildflowers to grow and
reproduce. They are beautiful surviving remnants of the original woodlands.
6. Do not allow wild areas with no lawn grass or mowing to become
brushed-over. When these areas become very brushy with buckthorn or native species like
wild cherries, they lose their populations of small plants. This leads to the problems of
drying, thinning topsoil and erosion. The seedlings of the largest and longest-lived
trees, oaks and hickories, will not grow up through these thickets. To remain healthy, a
woods or prairie in our area needs some periodic removal of brush.
7. When the ground is wet, keep machinery and trucks off your yard
and soil. Soil and tree roots are badly compacted and damaged by heavy equipment. Also try
not to bang trees with mowers or other machinery.
8. Avoid using chemicals on your yard because they may cause
premature tree death. Liquid fertilizers wind up in wetlands and streams where they kill
plants and animals. Use fertilizers composed of organic materials.
9. Try not to use much salt on driveways or sidewalks, as this only
adds increased stress to plants.
10. The genetic stock of trees from nurseries can be from almost
anywhere. An oak sapling from a nursery may have been grown from an acorn collected in
Kentucky. In contrast, the old trees on your property are survivors which have
incorporated the local climactic and biological influences into their genetic makeup.
Local trees are best adapted to this area and they should be maintained. Allow the wild
trees on your property to bear seedlings. To do this, simply stop moving a very small
section of your yard for one year and put small rabbit fences around the trees' seedlings
which have sprouted in the unmowed lawn area. Then resume mowing around these seedlings
and let them continue to grow.
11. Efforts to allow oak regeneration on residential properties is
especially recommended. The oaks are very long-lived, become very large, are adapted to
stressful weather conditions, and are less prone to decay or other defects than many of
our native trees. Also, the oaks are now in a period of die-off, due partially to the fact
that nobody thought to plant them in decades past. The walnuts and hickories are also
quite resistant to structural defects or rotting.
12. The following trees are not recommended for planting because of
their structural defects and diseases: Norway maple, silver maple, green ash, Siberian
13. If they aren't posing a danger, leave dead tree trunks to decay
on their own. They will be used by birds, insects and fungi.