Native woodland stewardship
Native woodlands are a precious part of Minnesota's natural heritage. They provide homes for many living creatures, protect air and water quality, and make yards more attractive. For the homeowner, maintaining native woodlands has many benefits:
- reduces time and expense of lawn care
- may improve property values, and
- can conserve energy.
Whether your yard contains a small cluster of trees or several wooded acres, the options below can help you reap these rewards.
Is there a native woodland in your yard? See if it has some of the following qualities:
- Do a lot of different animals, including birds and insects, live there?
- Does it have a mixture of live and dead trees of many sizes?
- Is there a layer of leaves, twigs, and logs on the ground?
- Is there a variety of trees, shrubs, ferns, and wildflowers?
If so, you may have a great example of a native woodland!
Maintaining your native woodland will help protect the web of life that it supports. Get started by following one or more of these suggestions:
Maintain native plants by retaining standing dead and live trees, logs, shrubs and wildflowers. What may look "messy" to you looks like home to your fellow creatures. If you notice large areas of exposed soil or places where native plants are absent, consider replanting some of them.
Remove invasive plants that don't belong in Minnesota woodlands. European buckthorn, Tartarian honeysuckle, Siberian elm, and garlic mustard can be removed by cutting, pulling, and/or herbicide application. Seek professional advice on appropriate control of these and other plants that invade native woodlands.
Work with neighbors to link your woodlands together by planting native trees and shrubs appropriate to your area. Think of your woodland as a single piece in a large puzzle.
Learn more about the plants, animals, and ecology of your woodland. Some good references are listed below. Visiting a nearby Scientific and Natural Area, or County or State Park is another great way to get acquainted with the local ecology.
(Available by calling the DNR Info Center at (651) 296-6157 or 1-888-646-6367 or visiting websites.)
Exotic species fact sheet series
Grow plants native to Minnesota/native plant suppliers and landscapes fact sheet series
Woodlands and nongame wildlife: A guide to management and preservation
Minnesota's St. Croix River Valley and Anoka Sandplain: A Guide to Native Habitats. D.S. Wovcha, B.C. Delaney, and G.E. Norquist. 1995
Noah's Garden: Restoring the Ecology of our own Back Yards. S. Stein. 1993.
Northland Wildflowers: A Guide for the Minnesota Region. J.B. Moyle and E.W. Moyle. 1977, 2001.