Ecology + Design

Winter Landscape Services – Westchester, Fairfield and Putnam Counties

Winter is Wonderful!

Here are some things to think about…

First, deer repellent or fencing? If you did not already fence your property with a 7-8′ high metal or plastic mesh or grid material, it’s probably already too late! The ground in the northeast has frozen early. It seems the extended dry period has ended and we have received much needed rainfall. Excellent for plants as the root systems should be fully hydrated before they enter their dormant winter cycle. This early freeze poses other practical challenges however, such as making it difficult if not impossible to install fence post. Keep in mind, if you’re going to successfully exclude deer from your property by fencing you should consider the following; Additional height by single strand wire up to ten feet above the fence. This increases height without violating building code restrictions. If the snow is three feet deep, the fencing is lower too! Gates and or cattle grates may be required. Electric gates sometimes get stuck when electric fails or snow and ice block mechanisms or moving parts. Allow access for oil tank or any other utilities etc, that may need to be available(see other blogs for more info). Occasionally walk the property and especially the perimeter to insure there are no fallen trees or branches compromising the enclosure.

I personally prefer to avoid temporary as well as permanent fencing for deer. From an ecological standpoint it disrupts the natural biotic corridors. Directing the foraging herds to your neighbors is not real friendly. Once again, if we design landscapes with natural barriers as well as selecting more deer resistant natives, our landscapes will easily be more sustainable with less maintenance and use fewer resources. To deter deer browse/damage I suggest Deer Free/ Winter Armor. This product is basically a white pepper and latex based formulation which serves as both a repellent and anti-dessicant. We mix it slightly stronger than the recommended rate. It promoted and marketed to last up to six months! I would happily settle for three.

Winter is the perfect time to prune your dormant fruit trees as well as other deciduous trees and shrubs. Eliminate dead branches, cross branching, sucker shoots etc.. Inspect your property for animal sign (tracks, well worn game paths, etc.). Look at areas you may want to add or remove wood and brush piles. Many but not all creatures are hibernating. Being aware of your wildlife inventory can be a source of pleasure as well as help you understand the dynamics of wildlife management. Which brings us to habitat. If you desire to encourage birds in winter, be sure you provide a water source, shelter, food etc.. Their are many good resources for info including National Wildlife Federation, Audubon and Wild Birds Unlimited to name a few. Have fun enjoying and learning about your wildlife.

Forest or woodlot management is something to consider in winter. A great resource for this is Northern Woodlands Magazine. You may also look at the storm water issues on your site or property. These may include flow paths, sheet flow, surface as well as subsurface water. Does water accumulate in some areas only in winter potentially creating safely or liability issues? What do you do for snow and ice control. That’s a whole different animal!

Aside from enjoying the wonderful winter environment outdoors there is so much you can do to improve and enhance your indoor spaces, both in terms in aesthetic appearance and health. Indoor plants or plantscapes can add so much enjoyment and value. By bringing nature into your home you can clean the air and refresh the senses. Consider an aquarium, terrarium, fairy garden or indoor water feature to make life indoors in winter more fun and interesting.

Finally, there is no better time to design, plan and schedule your landscape design projects. Why wait? Spring becomes summer and summer, fall fast enough. Don’t wait and let another year go by. Start Now !

Remember good design is not priceless but bad design is…..

Jay Archer, President


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