Have a brown thumb? Want your own backyard animal sanctuary? Looking for ways to help the environment?
No matter why you’re considering a wildlife garden, they’re a great way to create an interesting, attractive, and natural space that brings unusual visitors to your yard. Depending on your region, you’ll have to think carefully about what you bring into the area, but following a few basic best practices can help get you started.
Keep reading for everything you should know about creating a wildlife garden (and why you should).
Why Should You Make Your Outdoor Space Wildlife-Friendly?
For most homeowners and gardeners, there are two main reasons for creating a wildlife-friendly garden.
First, many people choose to create this type of garden as a way to invite wildlife back into an area they normally would have lived in. Human activity in many areas throughout the US and around the world has eliminated or fractured the natural habitat of many species. Insects and animals alike find themselves in shrinking wilderness areas that can make survival difficult.
With a wildlife garden, you can make a real difference by creating a sustainable habitat that creates a safe place for these creatures.
Second, creating a wildlife garden is a great opportunity for nature enthusiasts to glimpse more insects and animals than they might otherwise see. When you invite wildlife into an area, you might be surprised at what you find in your own backyard.
Beyond these main interests, it’s worth noting that a wildlife-friendly yard can be low-maintenance, as it creates an ecosystem that essentially takes care of itself. This makes it a great idea for busy homeowners, as well as those with brown thumbs!
If you’re ready to create a good habitat garden, here are a few steps you can take.
1. Let Your Grass Grow
Though a perfectly trimmed lawn has become something of a status symbol across the US, it’s not ideal for animals. Long grass offers opportunities for wildflowers and other natural plants like clover to take root. This, in turn, boosts nectar production and invites insects like bees and butterflies.
2. Add Bird Feeders and Bird Boxes
Birds are a critical part of any ecosystem, so it’s important to bring as many of them into your garden as possible. Adding bird feeders can attract a wide range of birds, though you’ll need to put some thought into the type of feeder you choose. Check out the options at nature-niche.com for ideas!
In addition, you’ll want to think about the kinds of foods you offer. Certain types of seeds will attract certain types of birds, for example, but it’s also a good idea to supplement these birds’ diet with other foods as well. During the winter, fat-heavy foods like suet, cheese, and peanut butter can help them stay warm for longer.
You’ll also want to be careful about where you place the feeders and bird boxes. Place all of them out of reach of any cats, and try to find quieter areas of the yard when possible.
3. Build a Pond
Water is a great way to attract wildlife to your garden: animals and insects need to drink to survive!
Creating a shallow pond can offer a space for aquatic insects and amphibians to survive, and birds and squirrels can use it to feed, drink, and bathe.
4. Pile up Your Logs
While you shouldn’t necessarily keep dry logs against your home, especially if you don’t want to invite insects in, you might want to consider stacking wood somewhere in your yard. Dry wood can provide shelter and warmth for both insects and small mammals like hedgehogs. You can also leave your yard’s leaf litter scattered around the pile, as this provides nutrients for the soil and a safe space for hibernating animals.
5. Bring in the Butterflies
Most butterflies and moths aren’t picky, and they’ll drink from the nectar of any flower. However, caterpillars are more discerning, and they may only feed on a few types of plants, many of which will be non-flowering.
Do some research into the types of butterflies and caterpillars in your area, and plant a garden with the types of plant species caterpillars relish.
6. Compost Your Food
If helping the environment is important to you, composting is a great strategy in more ways than one. Using table scraps as compost can help reduce the amount of food entering landfills, and it can also create a safe haven for insects and bugs.
With compost, you’ll attract worms, which are the allies of every gardener. These creatures eat the organic material in the compost, and in return, they’ll improve soil drainage anywhere they travel in your yard.
Compost can also attract other invertebrates like spiders, woodlice, snails, slugs, and millipedes, which can, in turn, attract other bugs and beasts that feed on these creatures.
7. Invite Bats
Though you may not see them, plenty of visitors come to your yard at night. In certain areas of the country, bats may find their way to your yard, so invite them in!
Planting night-blooming flowers can attract a range of insects, which local bats will feed on. You can also turn off artificial lighting to help them see better in the dark.
Create Your Own Wildlife Garden
Finding the right plants and structures to bring more animals and insects to your yard isn’t difficult, but it will require some planning and elbow grease! Depending on where you live and the types of creatures you want to attract, you’ll find that these simple tips can help you attract more wildlife to your home.
Start your wildlife garden today to start seeing more of what nature has to offer right where you live!
Want more of the tips you need to make the most of your family’s home? Check out our other posts for more insightful guides.
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