Last fall, we presented you with Five Tips for Super Stewardship. We decided we couldn’t stop there, as we often see several more examples of well-managed land during our visits. How does your property fare in these areas?
1. If it Dies, Let it Lie
Much of the debris or standing dead trees that many folks like to ‘clean up’ is actually part of the natural ecosystem. Standing dead trees, or snags, provide homes for a variety of wildlife for years after the death of the tree. Fallen logs on the forest floor or across a stream offer similar benefits; they host food sources, provide shelter, break up water flow, and gradually decompose into rich soil.
2. Delay Your Hay
Many landowners feel it is best to mow earlier than July 15 in order to get two hay harvests each summer. However, doing so threatens the survival of our grassland-nesting bird species. Waiting until after this date allows for birds to safely fledge up to two clutches. For more details, read here.
3. Say No to the Big Mow
There is no need to subject yourself or your property manager to a full day of mowing. Select a small area of lawn near your residence for mowing and gardening (an acre is usually plenty), and allow the rest to become a meadow, or an area for a tree planting. Not only will you save mowing time, tall grasses or trees will provide wildlife habitat and enhanced views. If there is a stream or pond on the property, erosion will be reduced, and runoff will be better captured before it reaches the stream. Keep in mind that occasional mowing may be necessary to prevent incursion of woody invasive plants such as Russian olive.
4. Safely Store Your Manure
For many, convenience and ease of access often determine the location of a manure pile. But educated landowners know that there are downstream consequences to such decisions. Please consider that a minimum distance of 50 to 100 feet is best for protecting water from the inevitable runoff that comes from any agricultural waste. Additionally, your conservation easement likely restricts the location of manure piles on the property.
5. Know the Meaning of Leaning
Don’t be too quick to remove healthy trees that are mistakenly labeled as ‘dead or dying.’ A good arborist will be able to assess a tree’s health, and this doesn’t always correspond to the angle at which it is leaning or how many branches remain. If a road or building is not threatened by an impending fall, your arborist will often suggest leaving the tree as is, and it could survive for several more years.