Frequently Asked Questions

Ques­tion: Why are the “No Mow” areas, like the Ripar­i­an Buffer and Wild­flower Mead­ow, mowed?

Answer:  In most areas, any land­scape left undis­turbed will even­tu­al­ly become a for­est. Before Euro­pean set­tle­ment, New Eng­land was large­ly cov­ered by old-growth forests. Due to human dis­tur­bances and nat­ur­al dis­tur­bances, like storms and fires, the region also includ­ed var­i­ous patch­es of mead­ows and young forests. Mow­ing pro­vides the dis­tur­bance required to main­tain the “no mow” areas at the mead­ow stage of suc­ces­sion, pro­vid­ing habi­tat to organ­isms that require this impor­tant, but increas­ing­ly rare, ecosystem.

Why aren’t Massasoit’s Sus­tain­able Land­scapes cut back until the spring, while most gar­den­ers cut them back in the fall?

Answer:  Most gar­den­ers cut back herba­ceous plants in the fall because they pre­fer a “clean” look. Because one of the goals of sus­tain­able land­scap­ing is use­ful­ness, plants aren’t cut back until the spring, allow­ing wildlife to have food and cov­er over the winter.

Ques­tion:  What’s the most sus­tain­able way to clean up leaves in the fall?

Answer:  In nat­ur­al ecosys­tems, leaves are left on the for­est floor to decom­pose and build healthy, rich soil. Remov­ing leaves also removes nutri­ents and organ­ic mat­ter that are impor­tant com­po­nents of healthy soil, so we make up for this deficit by apply­ing fer­til­iz­er. Fos­sil fuels are required to move leaves around, and many leaves end up in the land­fill. Instead, con­sid­er leav­ing leaves on the ground and mulching them in place!