LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) - Early spring is a time for cleaning around houses, farms and weekend cabins.
There is a good chance the sprucing up of the outdoor surroundings will result in a pile of debris – limbs, for instance – that will be burned when conditions are favorable.
Consider not burning, but making one or more brush piles, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission staff members suggest.
You will want to be selective about this, of course. Don't make a brush pile in front of the house where it could be an eyesore and a source of neighbors' complaints. Keep it some distance from a house or outbuildings. Out back somewhere and, especially if it is a rural setting, a brush pile can be useful for all sorts of wildlife, especially rabbits, quail and songbirds. The latter often use brush piles as havens from marauding house cats. Box turtles make use of brush piles.
A good feature of brush piles is no maintenance is needed. Rake and pile the cuttings from a hedge, the broken limbs and leaves you didn't dispose of last fall. If the garden has to be cleaned of dead tomato plants, these can go to the brush pile.
Cedar trees spring up nearly anywhere, and 99 percent of the time they are nuisances to the property owner or manager. Whack down the cedars, even small ones, and they make ideal material for a brush pile.
The simplest way to make a brush pile is to use that last word – pile. Just pile up the material and walk away. But more benefits for wildlife may come from a brush pile that is put together with a little design.
Lay the limbs, cuttings, branches and other items as if you're building a log cabin. Make it square, make it triangular. By crisscrossing the material, the result may be neater in appearance and may be more attractive to wildlife.
Eventually, the brush pile will decay, but this can take several years. Then it's time to build another one, even if it's on top of the old, rotted pile.