Landscaping for Wildlife
One of the main reasons people enjoy gardening or landscaping is to encourage wildlife to come closer. Homeowners want to be able to commune with the outdoors in a more meaningful way, which can be done by finding ways to improve the landscape for nature’s creatures.
There are many ways wildlife can be nurtured by gardeners. Wildlife needs three things in order to adapt to a landscape: a food source, shelter, and water. All three of these elements can be easily adapted to any garden.
The First Step: Provide Food Sources
Providing food sources should be the first step to of landscaping for wildlife. Food sources can either be provided or grown by planting appropriate plants. Plants that produce seeds or berries provide sustenance for birds, while trees with nuts are great for squirrels and chipmunks.
Hummingbirds love tubular flowers like penstemon and salvia. A simple birdfeeder is a great tool to get a good view of the birds as they fly to your back porch or patio. If you hang a hummingbird feeder somewhere within view will give you a much closer look at the speedy little birds. That said, you must keep in mind that not all birds want to eat seeds or nectar; many enjoy eating insects.
Bluebirds love to fly across open spaces and land on tall poles to find their next meal. Install a pole or two on opposite sides of the open spaces in your yard to give the bluebirds a good place to perch while hunting dinner.
Deer and rabbits love to graze on a variety of plant material. Be careful with encouraging deer, as they will graze on many of the landscape plants that you would like them to stay away from!
Insects are not only an important part of many birds’ diet – they are also an interesting part of nature. Butterflies and dragonflies are fun to watch while bees play an important role in sustaining food sources for other creatures. Bees provide nectar plants to entice butterflies and bees into your garden. Dragonflies are voracious insect predators and love to eat mosquitoes!
A Few Planting Suggestions: echinacea, sunflower, rudbeckia, salvia, penstemon, beautyberry, dogwood, viburnum, switchgrass.
The Second Step: Provide Water
If you have water sources in your garden for birds to bathe in, they will flock to those locations. A birdbath is a very easy way to add a water source to your landscape, but we recommend installing a water feature.
A pond, fountain, or waterfall with a recirculating water pump can create a great space for wildlife while adding the pleasant sounds of nature. Ponds can also allow you to have fish and provide a location for frogs to lay eggs.
The Third Step: Give them Shelter!
Animals are cautious: They are very wary of predators and need to feel comfortable in order to make your garden home. Tall grasses provide shelter for small creatures who nest on the ground, provide cover for birds, and serve as a food source when the grass goes to seed.
Avoid planting bushes too close to feeders as the bushes can also provide cover for predators (like the household cat) which makes it much more dangerous. Keep the feeders several feet away from cover so the birds can have a clear view of the scene.
Bird houses are a great way to attract your favorite feather friends. Select a bird house based on the type of bird you want to invite. Entrance hole size, the size of the box, and its location are very important for birding success! Be sure to hang your birdhouse appropriately for the type of bird since birds differ greatly on the locations they enjoy.
Bat houses are another great thing to add to your landscape. Bats eat hundreds of insects every hour and are an asset when trying to control populations of mosquitoes.
A few rocks here and there can provide shelter for toads and frogs which are a tremendous help when dealing with insect and slug issues.
Landscaping for wildlife can be fun, and it’s very helpful to your garden’s ecosystem. We encourage you to implement these ideas for a beautiful, healthy garden!