Start Thinking Backyard Forest--we need to get there, and soon!

In my family, my grandfather was known as an "aggressive" pruner.

As child, I always felt terrible for what was left of the trees and bushes he

"neatened," but I didn't realize how far the effects spilled over....

With the snow going, going, gone, it's only a matter of time in my neighbourhood

before the guys come out with the chain saws, trimmers, and - nightmare for all

remaining turtles, salamanders, and such - whipper snappers.

Many of these old school practices are still in play, including trimming branches

right up to the bark and then painting over that (how would you like someone to

paint over your skin wound?), leaving one lonely tree in an island of grass (desert

for all plants and creatures). Chain sawing down trees entirely because they are "in

the way of the lawn mower." "Cleaning up" the yard until not a grass blade is out of


My five plus decades have seen an average 70% decline in everything we

cohabitate with in urban nature – birds, insects, amphibians, critters of all kinds -

because of this "us vs them" way of seeing our yards (their homes!) as separate

from nature.

I look forward to an old age when we've understood that the nature that breathes

for us, regulates our climate, and supports all of our necessary and delightful living

companions can't read a property line map.

This spring, let's leave the snags - create a messy spot in your yard for the critters,

research modern pruning techniques on YouTube before you cut, and plant some native

trees along with shrubs with berries that are more helpful to your birds than the feeder!

And if you do have to take down a tree, do it in the fall, when the bird and squirrel

and bat babies are grown.

May my grandfather's pruning techniques rest in peace!

PS – Hey, election time is around the corner! Ask your candidates for council and

mayor if they will support increased budget for green projects, including public

education and access to arborists to help people make good decisions about their

piece of the urban forest. And let us know what they said at

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