Although fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs, it is important to still provide water and to protect the root base by adding leaves to provide insulation against the cold. Planting bulbs in the fall requires a little watering before the winter. Add mulch to new plantings and bulbs to help with new growth in the spring.
All perennial flowers in your garden have seed heads that have dried nicely. As tempting as it is to clear your garden of dead materials, leave the dried perennial flowers. Birds love to eat the seeds of these dried flowers and will do a nice job of dispersing the seeds to other areas. The dried plants also provide a nice cover for the birds from the winter winds, snow, and potential predators such as red tail hawks, which will come into residential areas to hunt. In the spring, the seed heads may be broken up, allowing the seeds to go directly into your garden resulting in a nicer bunching of perennials.
Dry leaves are the product of cooler temperatures and lack of sunlight. Raking and cleaning the yard for winter provides us with great fresh air and exercise. As many do not necessarily enjoy this activity, one great way to get a benefit beyond the exercise is to compost the leaves that you rake up. Composting is a simple recipe that consists of your leaves or dead, dry plants (carbon or browns), vegetables or fruit scraps (nitrogen or greens), moisture and heat. Placing your composter in a partially sunny location helps to provide the heat that you need. Winter is perfect for composting, as the addition of dry brown materials and greens mixed in the springtime will provide fertilizer to start your gardens.
Grundy County Land Use Department is selling composters at cost of $25 apiece until the end of November or while supplies last. Each composter has a single-piece body made of recycled plastic, removable top lid, and sliding bottom door for ease of removing compost. You also can make your own composter that will allow for air infiltration in the form of openings or buy one from your local hardware store.
Open burning in unincorporated Grundy County
Dried landscape waste and leaves may be burned in unincorporated Grundy County or areas outside of cities and villages. However, to be considerate of others in residential areas, there are rules that our office enforces concerning open burning:
• Materials to be burned must be dry to prevent excessive smoke in the neighborhood.
• Burning may take place only from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends from Oct. 15 to May 1.
• Winds must be less than 10 miles per hour.
• Burning must be located 20 feet from any building or structure on adjacent properties or from the property line.
• Burning must be supervised, and a fire extinguisher or water source must be nearby to extinguish the fire.
Fireplace and chimney checks for fire safety
It is wonderful to sit around a fireplace and enjoy the beauty and warmth. However, before you grab logs of wood and start your fire, consider a safety check of the fire box and the flue.
Chimney sweeping is an important part of fireplace safety. Chimneys that are left uncleaned can collect creosote, which in turn could catch fire and overheat your flue. Chimney inspectors will check your firebox, the exterior masonry brick and the interior flue and smoke chamber. If your chimney needs repairs, cleaning or both, it is good to have this completed for the season.
As with any type of construction work, make sure the contractor has the proper licensing, insurance and surety bonding.
Midewin noted in expedition for Bison Day on Nov. 7
National Bison Day is Nov. 7, and on that Saturday, we should celebrate America’s national mammal by being part of the USDA virtual Cross Country Bison Expedition from 11 a.m. to noon. This will be a travel excursion starting in Montana and ending in Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. To be part of this virtual event, email SM.FS.Midewin-RSVP@usda.gov or call 815-423-6370.
The calendar inches us closer to friend and family gatherings for Thanksgiving and what a great time to look to being sustainable during this thankful holiday. Here are a couple ideas:
• Use cloth napkins and tablecloths that may be washed and used again instead of paper.
• Buy enough food for the guests who will be coming to your party so there are fewer leftovers.
• Give leftovers to guests in plastic reusable containers or compost leftover vegetables or fruit.
• Provide containers for the guests to properly recycle cans and bottles made of glass and aluminum and ask them to recycle.
CFL recycling program
Our department has been collecting compact fluorescent lamp bulbs and will continue to do so until we have exhausted our supply of recycling buckets. If you would like to provide unbroken CFL bulbs to our office, make sure you do the following:
• Bulbs must be whole and placed into a zip-close bag.
• Provide bulbs to a staff member – do not leave bulbs on the office counter.
Annual toy event canceled
It is with deep regret that we will not be collecting toys for 2020. The concern is the continued spread of COVID-19. We hope to have this event again in 2021.
Feel to contact the Grundy County Land Use Department either by email at email@example.com or phone at 815-941-3229 if there are any questions.
Thank you, Grundy County, for being environmental stewards and have a wonderful holiday season as you care for your friends, families and our planet.
• Heidi Miller is the director of the Grundy County Land Use Department.