Messy Gardening: Pledge to be a Lazy Gardener

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Thank You Pledgees!

The pledge is now closed with over 4,900 pledges made!

Pledge to be a lazy gardenerGardens are havens for wildlife–even at the end of the growing season. Overgrown grassy reeds, dried flower stalks, and shrubby fruit-filled branches provide food, cover, and protection in the fall and winter for animals big and small. We had a successful campaign with over 4,900 people who committed to leaving their gardens messy until spring 2018.


This campaign mattered, we ran the numbers and the top action taken in 2017 for Habitat Mappers was to LEAVE LEAVES IN PLACE! This one action added an immense amount of habitat for overwintering pollinators. Congratulations leaf leavers!

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How To Encourage A Messy Garden


  • Leave your leaves on the property


  • Allow the gorgeous dried flower heads to stay standing in your garden


  • Let the grass grow tall and seed


  • Build a brush pile with fallen branches instead of removing them


  • Forget the chemicals


  • Leave snags on your property


  • Delay garden clean-up until spring, after several 50℉ (10℃) days allowing overwintering pollinators to move on

Did you know….

messy garden vogy

Photo © Monarch Gardens LLC- Benjamin Vogt

Vital pollinators, such as native bees, may overwinter in your messy garden. Cellophane bees (Colletes inaequalis), will create burrows in the ground to reproduce and ride-out the cold winter months. Learn more…

Spiders, reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and 96% of all terrestrial birds depend on insects for food (Doug Tallamy); and, an overgrown end of the season garden is great habitat for insects meals. Learn More…

There are around 12,000 different kinds of moths and 865 butterfly species in North America. Many of these lepidoptera such as the mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) may take refuge in your messy garden overwinter. Learn more…

Several native shrubs and trees produce carbohydrate-fat-fiber-rich fruits that small mammals and especially, birds rely on in the fall and winter. These resources have been found to be essential for migrating birds attempting to keep up their energy reserves for long flights. Learn more…

Some birds, such as the Savannah Sparrow, require ideal winter habitat as a crucial part of their survival and reproductive success in the spring. Learn more…