Pumpkins and (o)possums!

Here are some wildlife friendly decoration ideas for your home and garden this fall!

Plastic, metal, and wired décor can be beautiful during the holidays. But year after year, the Wildlife Medical Clinic sees critters that have been inadvertently trapped or somehow gotten stuck in modern fall decorations. In order to minimize the chance of this happening, we wanted to give you some wildlife friendly decoration ideas for this fall.

It’s time to avoid fake spider webs. Not only is the material harmful for the environment, but birds and other small critters can become easily trapped in the mesh and not be able to free themselves. These materials can wrap around the leg, causing a constrictive lesion, much like a rubber band on your wrist that is far too tight. Unable to remove the material, animals can have serious and, at times, even fatal injuries due to these materials. It’s also a good idea to avoid decorations with small hoops or closed circles for the same reason. Relatedly, décor with small pieces can prove to be choking hazards for wildlife. Natural items, including various sized pumpkins and other gourds, dried fruits and vegetables, and straw or hay bales, on the other hand, are often safe, festive, and a great alternative option!

With pumpkins available in stores by early September and pumpkin patches opening for business, it is no wonder the pumpkins are often synonymous with the fall. Playing to this association by making a decorative arrangement of different sized and shaped pumpkins creates an eye catching and festive look! To preserve your pumpkins and gourds, you can clean them in white vinegar, diluted 1-part vinegar to 10-parts water. This works great for jack-o-lanterns and is a wildlife friendly alternative to bleach! Using straw or hay bales in the front of your house to create a base setting for scarecrows, pumpkins, other gourds, and other natural fall décor is a way to elevate your front porch or backyard.

Another option to add some natural, colorful décor to your homestead is to bake citrus fruits in the oven and string them up on a garland to decorate your entryway. After removing the ends of the fruit and creating slices about ¼ of an inch thick, bake in your oven for 3 to 4 hours at 200 degrees F on a cooking sheet and flip the rounds every hour until dried. Then use a toothpick to poke a hole in the top of each piece. Use a piece of twine or string to connect each piece and you are done! These can also be used as fun ornaments after the fall holidays have passed.

Corn on the cob can be additionally great decorate with, especially if you enjoy cornucopias, wreaths, and centerpieces. Corn stalks can be strung together to create an outdoor garland or tied to a fence post to add an eye-catching element to your home and garden. Combining corn stalks and dried wheat and adding them to an apothecary jar can create a nice centerpiece to display in your entryway, on a dining table, or on a coffee table.

When fall has passed and it’s time to exchange the oranges and browns to greens, whites, and reds, consider perishable items, like pumpkins, corn, and fruits, can be composted or (local ordinances permitting) left in natural spaces to be used as food and bedding for wildlife. Whether it be making sustainable choices or fully committing to natural seasonal décor, the choices you make at home can have big impacts for the wildlife around us. We hope you are able to welcome this fall season with a cup of hot apple cider and that you have a happy and safe Halloween!