Thanks, Anna, for your great Christmas tree-recycling tips
. Here's one more: make your tree the foundation for a backyard
Now, you might ask: why a brush pile? Answer: it encourages wildlife diversity. Yes, putting out a bird feeder is an important first step to attracting birds
and other little critters. However, a brush pile will draw in many more. Plus they're easy to make, don't cost a dime, and they encourage true diversity in the landscape
Want to give it a try? Here are some tips for creating a brush pile that critters will love
1) Use something fairly substantial as the base for your pile. A Christmas tree is one idea, but you could also try an old wooden pallet
, two or three short logs, or a couple old fence posts. This foundation will support the smaller stuff you stack on top. It will also let oxygen flow through, and prevent settling -- so that countless insects and other small creatures (like the baby anole pictured above) can scuttle in and make their homes there.
2) Next, add largish branches in a criss-cross style. Lay them nice and loosely, creating naturalistic nooks and crannies for birds to use as safe zones to escape predators and to shelter from rough weather. As insects make their homes there, the pile will eventually become a delicious buffet for insect-eating birds.
3) In future, don't toss yard debris after a storm or after a pruning session. Instead, add branches to your brush pile.
4) Don't be afraid to make the brush pile nice and big...if you have the room to spare, that is. Ten foot square, for example, is not too big. The bigger and sturdier the pile, the more diversity you will attract.
5) Site your brush pile fairly close to your bird feeder, so that birds can zoom in and out while they dine. If you object to that idea on aesthetic grounds, no problem -- place it somewhere out of sight. It will still attract birds.
Get out there, build your brush pile, and be patient. They will come!