Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ April 2013

Gardening Matters

It’s Spring, Birds are Singing!  Let’s Give Them a Hand

By Clare Nielsen

A walk around our neighborhood will show that plenty of us have space in our yards for more plants.  And if we plant the right kinds, we can make our yards more attractive — while also supporting local birds and other wildlife.

Here are some easy ways to make the most of your gardening for wildlife this spring:  by planting the “good” and removing the “bad.”

Plant This:  Three Top Native Shrubs

These three native shrubs are attractive, easy to grow, and among the best for attracting birds and other wildlife to your garden.  You can see all of these plants in person at Forest Knolls Elementary School, along the nature trail behind the school and the corridor that adjoins the front and back of the grounds.

You can find these plants at better plant nurseries in our area, like Behnke’s in Beltsville.  For even better selection, try a mail order plant nursery.  I especially like Rarefind Nursery.

Remove This:  English Ivy is Toppling Our Trees

I’m sure that many of us don’t know that the evergreen ivy climbing so many trees in our neighborhood is an invasive weed in Maryland — one that will eventually kill the trees it climbs (see photo).  This ivy is virtually everywhere you look in our yards and woods these days, taking habitats from native species and even threatening our homes.

That’s not an overstatement:  many ivy-covered trees in our neighborhood sit close to houses.  If the ivy is not removed, these trees will fall — and your house, or your neighbor’s — may be the loser.

Here’s the good news:  now, before the trees leaf out, is a great time to spot and remove English ivy.  Smaller vines can be removed from tree trunks and branches, then pulled them out by the roots.  Larger, more established vines are more difficult to remove; cut the vines a few inches from the base of the tree and leave the vines in place on the trunk rather than trying to strip off the hard-gripping ivy.  Then, try to dig the ivy roots and remaining vines out of the ground to prevent regrowth.

Birds and other wildlife may not thank you for taking action to remove ivy from their habitat, but your neighbors might!

[Clare Nielsen has been gardening with native plants in our neighborhood for 15+ years.  She is now Director of Communications for American Bird Conservancy.  Please contact Clare (contact details redacted) if you’d like to join monthly native plant maintenance days on the Forest Knolls Nature Trail.]   ■

   © 2013 NFCCA  [Source:]