(Special Guest Blog by David's Wife)
Spring is here and what better way to celebrate than by puttering around in the garden? It’s a good time to see actual plant growth (the new leaves are almost here) and do some tidying up. Here’s a recap of our Big Garden Clean Up Putter over at Home ReSource.
Sidebar: you may recall that David and I designed and installed the native plant landscaping at Home ReSource as volunteers. We think the world of HR and want the landscaping to reflect their mission of sustainable living.
Our tasks for the day:
- Pick up trash that had been hiding under the snow
- Trim back shrubs for better shaping
- Use the trimmed branches for creating (or reinforcing) brush piles for wildlife
- Install birdhouse
- Repair a bird bath
In the above photo, David installs a bird house above a landscape island in which the trash has been removed, shrubs trimmed, and a brush pile created. It went really well. If you live in
Here’s some more detail.
Step 1: Self explanatory. It’s depressing when the snow comes off to see how much crud was hiding under there for months. But it’s really satisfying to throw it away. Another positive note: David found my Leatherman Mini under some snow. I didn’t even realize I had lost it. Thanks David!
Step 2: David trimmed back unruly branches of Wood’s rose (it just makes them stronger- top photo) and snowberry (just for shaping purposes- bottom photo).
A few wayward branches of chokecherry, shrubby cinquefoil and Ponderosa pines got cut too. I want to stress that this trimming is for aesthetic reasons. Of course, these native plants do just fine out in the world without gardeners showing up to trim them. But when we use native plants in a landscape setting, it is perfectly reasonable to impose a little bit of order on them.
Step 3: The high school kids and I took all the branches and piled them for brush piles. These are nice little refuges for ground feeding birds, insects (like butterfly chrysalises) and who knows what else. There isn’t really any way to mess up a brush pile, but David has directions on his website: http://montanawildlifegardener.blogspot.com/2009/04/build-brush-pile-for-wildlife.html
Here’s one of the new brush piles, near
Soon creatures will be piling in there for refuge from all kinds of things (weather, stray cats, hungry birds). You know who loves a good brush pile?
Step 4: Install a bird house. If you want birds to nest in your yard this spring, PUT UP YOUR BOXES AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Birds are looking for nest sites now. Read more at
Here’s David installing a nest box above the parking lot at Home ReSource today. It’s mounted about 9 feet off the ground and facing east. It could be used by chickadees, nuthatches or wrens.
If you haven’t put up a bird house yet STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING and go over to Home ReSource, because they sell bird houses for native species made entirely out of recycled materials. They even come with sawdust (for stuffing the box, making it nest-y-er for birds) and an instruction sheet.
Step 5: Repair the bird bath. Last summer David installed a bird bath made from a re-purposed light shade, and connected to the drip irrigation system so it was always fresh and full. Unfortunately the glass bath didn't survive the winter, so he made a new one. Also out of glass. We'll see how it goes. Bird baths are one of the best things you can provide for birds, especially in winter.