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Brush Piles for Everyone!

It's not always possible but I try to find a way to keep all organic yard "waste" on site. One way is through mulching (breaking up dead growth in Spring and dropping it in the bed), another by way of composting and for all of those woody clippings its a brush pile. I try to convince all of my customers to create a brush pile somewhere in their yards as a way to increase habitat and to limit waste expense and landfill space. I have two really large brush piles in the ravine behind my house that are always active with the tiny sounds of nature - mostly birds seeking refuge, foraging for food or perching. In Winter during a snowstorm the pile of sticks appears to be alive because there's so much activity happening within and on top of it. It's not necessary to have an unsightly large pile if you have a small yard for it to be effective. Yesterday, I built this small brush pile in the corner of my customer's yard using the Forsythia and Rose of Sharon shrubs that I removed from her garden (great plants if you live in Korea but not very ecologically functional in these parts). The base layer is constructed of a few layers of criss-crossing larger branches and then I piled the smaller clippings on top, making sure to prune side branches so that the pile wouldn't get too large and ugly. If she loses some branches on her conifer trees this winter then we'll add those to the top of the pile to create a cozy roof. In the Spring I'm going to recommend planting native Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana) near the edges of the pile to create a mound of flowering vines that will weave through the sticks, providing a food source for pollinators and birds while creating a hump of beautiful flowers. For more information on the ecological benefits of brush piles and instructions on how to construct one, I like this page....

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