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A Few Snags Are a Good Thing

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although tree farmers must keep their stands healthy, a few snags, upright dead or dying trees, usually don’t pose a risk and are critical to the lifecycle of many animals. Primary cavity creators like woodpeckers and brown-headed nuthatchers are the top of a group of animals that benefit from snags. A raft of secondary creatures then enjoy these hollow spaces – such as  Owls, bats and certain songbirds.

Many of these residents help keep the forest free of insects by foraging for insects that attack and weaken trees. Of course in small yards you can’t leave large trees that might cause damage to structure or people standing, but a dead dogwood at the back of your lot can serve as trellis for Bignonia and yellow jessamine and provide a lookout for an owl that might capture a vole or shrew that dashes across your lawn.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.