Autumn Landscaping Resources

Child in leaves

Autumn Landscaping. Sorry I'm Late!

This year, what with all the all at our gallery, every other plan I had went out the window.

Both Synchronicity and my gardens were sorely neglected.  

I am thus late with this article and still struggling to accomplish basic fall cleanup.

Fortunately, while I still have important work to do, I am comforted by a whole host of experts who now recommend taking it easy on the leaf removal.

Autumn Dogwood
"Autumn Dogwood" photo by Katheryn Laible

On Leaving the Leaves

This is rapidly becoming a very mainstream concept.

Here’s a piece from Homeserve.com, “Rake It or Leave It? Here’s Why You May Just Wanna Leave Your Leaves Where They Fall,”  one from the USDA, and even one in Good Housekeeping.

Here’s an article from James Doubek for NPR on the subject.

Environmental groups have been saying this for years. Here’s the National Wildlife Federation on why.

And one from The Xerces Society: “Leave the leaves.”

BTW, I just discovered the Xerces Society, which is focused on saving invertebrates. Their work is deeply fundamental and yet applied at our level in the food chain, so it’s really helpful! Their Facebook page is a wealth of basic, excellent advice.

…There are tips on winter cleanup, saving seeds, a beautiful sight of Monarch Butterflies migrating….

I learned about them from Long Island Native Plant Group on Facebook, a great community of incredibly knowledgeable and helpful folks who think about our local ecoscapes all year long

…but I digress…

…I was talking about leaving the leaves…

Photo of oak leaf on pavement
"Oak Leaf" photo by Katheryn Laible

Well, Most of Them Anyway

The movement to leave the leaves is really important, but should be taken with a little common sense.

It also remains important to keep the driveway clear, as well as stone patios and pathways, assuming you wish to preserve them. The same goes for grass (though a thin layer of leaves may be mowed quite healthfully), which also likes to be aerated from time to time.

On my property, I’m dealing with invasive Norway Maples that I’m working to eradicate and replace with native trees as quickly as I can afford to do so. With them, I have found raking the leaves is fairly important as they seem particularly smother-y and slow to break down. As I am working to reduce their spread, I also want to be able to get their whirlybirds up in the spring!

As such, my approach isn’t so different from what Soil Seed and Garden.com says here, or The Spruce, here.

So, I do continue to rake a bit….mindfully….

Autumn afterblooms
"Autumn Afterblooms" photo by Katheryn Laible

Consider Losing the Lawn

Of course, while lawn health is among the biggest reasons to still rake, folks such as those from Re-Wild Long Island (an incredible collaboration of Long Island experts) suggest you consider doing away with your lawn instead.

This powerful opinion piece in the New York Times suggests you’d best “Kill your lawn before it kills you.”

On the West Coast, this has become a serious affair. Alternatives such as Xeriscaping, which focuses on minimizing water use, have become very popular. There, many factors including severe ongoing drought are coming together to prove that fighting the ecosystem for the sake of grass isn’t worth the trouble.

Related practices are gaining popularity across the country as communities come to realize that tending their own yard is a great way to nurture a healthier environment.

I’m not quite ready to ditch my lawn myself. However, I am committed to neither watering nor fertilizing nor spraying it with chemicals, and to doing all I can to maximize the ecological value of my property.

Here’s a nice piece from Brooklyn Greenways on why native plants are so important.

I am deeply inspired by projects like these “Rewilding Long Island” examples featured on the Rewild Long Island website.

See these 12 Inspiring ideas for a lawn-free landscape from porch.com, and some more on Houzz.

Check them all out and then go, tread lightly into winter, and dream of the upcoming spring.

 

(BTW: You can find resources for that here … it’s never too early to start planning!)

photo looking up at trees in twilight
"Looking Up: After the Fall" photo by Katheryn Laible

Native Garden and Ecolandscaping Resources

Bee on Aster by Katheryn Laible

A few years ago now, I started reaching out to friends and collecting resources that we are pleased to share with you!

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21st Annual Smart Growth Awards: LIVE and In-Person!

Smart Growth Awards Logo

For over 20 years Vision Long Island has been honoring individuals, organizations, and projects that advance the growth of our downtowns and infrastructure. Specific focus areas include transit oriented development, affordable housing, environmental sustainability, traffic calming, transportation enhancements, clean energy and community based planning.

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2020 Smart Growth Summit Review

While the event was very long, and dug into many deep challenges, it was an overwhelmingly hopeful affair, grounded in real people doing real things, so much so that folks kept watching long after 5pm on Friday! In summary:

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A Few Good Places to Give

Long Island needs more people to give to local organizations addressing our local challenges. Here are just a few to consider:

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Down to Earth with the Synchronicity Network – Thanks for Great Resources!

Photo of Bee on Aster by Katheryn Laible

Here at home, one way Katie’s been overcoming pandemic poos is through her garden. It works!!! She’s been weeding, mostly, identifying local and invasive species with apps like PlantNet and iNaturalist, and then wrestling those who’d best go out of the Earth until she’s too tired to do it anymore.

The reward has not only been a tremendous amount fresh air and healthy stress sublimation, but a yard full of gorgeous asters, goldenrod, wild raspberries and delighted pollinators! In recent week, the birds have started coming. It seems her yard is well rated on the Zagats Migration Edition!

She’s been grateful for the Huntington Gardeners and the Long Island Native Plant Gardening Group on Facebook as she’s overcome her well-earned terror of poison ivy and endeavored to cultivate and better understand her own hyper-local ecology. They are wonderful!!!

You can find others in our ever-evolving Down to Earth with the Synchronicity Network (submissions welcome!). Soon, we will add KMS Native Plants LLC, one of a growing number of sources for local plants and an excellent resource itself!

Autumn is a great time for planting. There are still a few weeks to take advantage of it! Katie has been transplanting volunteer native trees and plans to purchase native plants this weekend! Her gardening grand finale for 2020 will be the Winter Solstice, when she will honor a tradition started when her first child was tiny: Planting bulbs as a rite of faith that spring will dawn again.

This helps, too! Brain Pickings, we love you! Speaking of well-known appreciators of Long Island and human nature, Maria Popovich recently resurfaced this lovely meditation on Long Island’s own “Walt Whitman on Democracy and Optimism as a Mighty Form of Resistance” Read it, and carry on with whatever great mission you are on!

 

Vision Smart Growth Awards, Summit

We also deeply missed being able to gather with 1,000 community leaders at a live Smart Growth Awards this year. We are grateful for all our sponsors at Vision Long Island do to advance Smart Growth, their focus on serving Main Street (especially now!) and for their endeavors — like so many other nonprofits — to ensure their important work continues.

The online version was still deeply valuable. You can read a brief description of the honorees here. Check out their YouTube page for a video of the event itself, as well as great videos at the sites with the honorees.

Please also continue to check out the Long Island Main Street Alliance for news and information aimed at helping Long Island’s small businesses.

The Smart Growth Summit will also be virtual this year!

“In a time of social distancing and being unable to meet in person, the 19th Annual Long Island Smart Growth Summit is an event that takes on more importance as we seek to assist our local communities through economic recovery guided by placemaking principles.

This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, we will be holding a virtual program that will feature workshops, technical worksessions, and plenary sessions on regional and local issues facing downtown redevelopment, complete streets projects, infrastructure investment, regulatory relief and economic recovery through the Coronavirus.

For years, Vision has brought together thousands of civic members, chambers, community-minded developers, environmentalists, design professionals, labor, academics, seniors, young people, and minority owned businesses along with federal, state, county, town and village officials from Long Island and the region.

We need your continued energy and participation to help shape recovery efforts so the many years of progress made in our local communities is not lost.”

When: December 2nd through 4th

For More Info and to Register: Visit their Eventbrite page