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Ways to Conserve
20 Wonderful Ways You Can Preserve the Nature of Lower Merion
Our backyards overflow with life; so many different plants and animals share Lower Merion with us. Here's some tips and tricks you can use to become better stewards of the nature of Lower Merion.
1. Bust that sod
Large manicured lawns are ecological deserts that provide homes for very few species. Invite nature into your yard by breaking up your sea of turf, and dedicate sections to native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees.
2. Cater to caterpillars
Grow the plants caterpillars crave as food: milkweed for Monarchs, dill for Swallowtails, pussytoes for Painted Ladies. As you feed caterpillars, you'll be growing butterflies!
3. Go for the gold
Plant sunflowers, purple coneflowers, and thistles, but don't pick dead flower heads. In late summer, impossibly yellow goldfinches will greedily visit your yard to devour their seeds. It's a sight you'll quickly come to cherish.
4. Leave those leaves
When autumn's leaves fall, leave generous piles in corners, atop beds. It's great mulch, and a winter hibernation spot for butterflies, bees, and more. A messy winter garden is great habitat for small creatures.
5. Go native
Our gardens overflow with alien, cultivated plants: hosta, impatiens, begonia. Return natives to our landscape with goldenrods, asters, and milkweeds. Often better at attracting butterflies and birds, they need less water, too.
6. Get outdoors
To grow nature, you've got to know nature. Join the Conservancy on our walks, hikes, and events, all designed to introduce you to the nature of Lower Merion.
7. Help happy hummers
Attract ruby-throated hummingbirds to your yard with the red, tubular flowers they desire: trumpetvine, cardinal flower, bee balm.
8. Let the water run
No sound attracts wildlife like running water. Add a small gurgling water source to your yard, and backyard birds will flock to your home!
9. Spray? No way!
Pesticides harm valuable insects, not just the pest you've targeted. And the potential impact of chemicals on children and pets is still unknown. To restore ecological balance, minimize or end your use of sprays.
10. Become a batman
Build or buy-- and then install!-- a bat box for your favorite flying mammal to use for its long winter's nap. Why encourage bats? Easy. Each one devours several thousand mosquitoes every night.
11. Zap the zapper
Bug zappers don't work; they kill too many helpful insects, like moths that pollinate flowers, and are ineffective against mosquitoes. If you have one, don't use it, and don't bother buying one-- bats are better mosquito-killers.
12. Make peace with weeds
Many weeds are just native wildflowers trying to reclaim their habitat. In moderation, weeds like clover are quite lovely in most lawns. Get to know your backyard weeds and keep helpful ones around.
13. Keep pets indoors or leashed
Many outdoor cats are efficient hunters that stalk and kill birds, chipmunks, even rare animals like flying squirrels. These encounters harm wildlife and could be dangerous for your cat. If you have a cat, please keep it indoors. In natural areas, dogs disturb ground-nesting wildlife, kill small animals like woodchucks, and leave bacteria-ridden droppings behind. Please keep dogs leashed and always clean up after them.
14. A tree-mendous idea
Feed birds naturally by planting the trees that produce wildlife-friendly fruits and seeds: pines, oaks, walnuts, fruit trees. Dogwood's red berries, for example, are winter food for as many as 90 species of birds.
15. Manage pools properly
Many pool companies illegally dump chlorine-rich water into storm drains, where it enters streams to kill fish, frogs, and insects. If you've got a pool, keep its chemicals out of our streams.
16. Hammering habitat
Depending on your property, you can build and install wooden homes that attract wrens, robins, song sparrows, chickadees, woodpeckers, even wood ducks and barn owls. Need blueprints? Call us.
17. Save the dead
Dead trees provide habitat for a startling diversity of animals. Woodpeckers nest in them, and owls take over old woodpecker holes. If you own a large property, keep a few of dead trees around-- the owls will thank you.
18. A sweet idea
Purchase a hummingbird and/or a butterfly feeder, stock it with homemade nectar (sugar water), and enjoy watching these nectar-sippers at work.
19. Conserve! Conserve! Conserve!
To preserve habitats, reduce your consumption of resources and alleviate the stresses you place on environmental systems. Recycling saves energy and resources, preventing the mining of new ore and keeping forests intact.
At meetings of the Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners, let officials know that you care about woodpecker holes in dead trees, fox burrows on large estates, dragonfly nymphs in local creeks. Speak out for the nature of Lower Merion!
Updated: 9/8/2006 © 2013Lower Merion Conservancy. All rights reserved.
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