On Creating a Brush Pile
There are several ways that they can be reused to benefit your garden or local environment. Most of you readers probably do one of these already but here they are for a quick reminder.
- Many municipalities offer recycling programs where they chip and shred trees turning them into mulch which can then be used in your garden, in public parks or walking trails.
- My in-laws sink their tree into their pond for the fish to use as a refuge and breeding area.
- You can give it a second life as a Christmas tree for your feathered friends by placing it in your garden and adorning it with fruit and nuts for the birds to feast on.
- If you have bird feeders you can lay the tree nearby and song birds will use it as a place to perch and take refuge.
- Perhaps you might consider using it as a trellis in your spring vegetable garden for peas or beans to climb up.
This year we've decided just to add our tree to a brush pile that we started earlier this year. Initially the brush pile was actually a burn pile. You see, my husband had removed several cherry trees from our front garden and we could only drag the really heavy tree trunks so far so we left them in an open area just in front of the woods with the intention of burning them in the fall. (Think fall bonfire, smores, and apple cider) Then in early fall my husband began removing some shrubs which had been a thorn in my side since we moved into our house. The shrubs are those builder grade shrubs which need lots of maintenance and don't provide any purpose to wildlife. You know the type. I can't tell you how happy I am that they have now all been removed. (Here's me doing a happy dance) We threw all these shrubs on top of the logs because it seemed the most convenient place at the time. Then we added some limbs from a little bit of pruning that we did around the garden.
The non-native shrubs that weren't any use to the wildlife or the gardener when they were upright [alive] are now getting a new life creating a habitat for our wildlife. It was one of those light bulb moments where I thought to myself, why didn't we do this before?
I wanted to show you some photos of the birds in the brush pile but my zoom lens is being cleaned/repaired and I am just not able to get close enough with my other lenses without the birds either flying away or going deeper into the pile. This little wren is the best I could do. So better bird shots will have to wait for another day, another post. I can tell you that we see lots of white-throated sparrows, wrens, mourning doves, Eastern towhees, cardinals, thrashers, titmice, warblers, mocking birds that are hopping, perching, side stepping, jumping, or hunkering down in the pile.
Brush piles can also provide cover for ground nesting birds. I would love to see some quail find a home in our garden! It is also a place for the chipmunks, rabbits and squirrels to hide when chased by hawks, owls or our very spirited dogs (who are sometimes more determined than the natural predators).
|Going after a vole. (Maybe we'll plant a tree here in the spring)|
And, as the brush pile begins to rot and decay more insects will arrive helping in the recycling process as well as provide additional food for the birds. I've already see some insects buzzing around on some of our warmer winter days. It just seems to be a win-win solution for the wildlife and the gardener.