Build Your Own Wildlife Gardens

Attract Birds, Butterflies and More

Wildlife Gardens, or Habitats are a combination of food, water, shelter and a space to raise a family.

Even a small yard can be landscaped to attract certain birds, butterflies, some insects and a few small critters. 38 years ago our first house was right in the city. You know, with the postage stamp yard.

We now live in suburbia with more yard and more wildlife.

Even with the small yards and houses packed in with little elbow room, we still attracted hummingbirds (Karen's first ever), cardinals a pair of chickadees and some woodpeckers by the first year.

It was simple. By knowing what to plant and what to offer the birds, we did okay.

More times then not, city streets are lined with mature trees. These trees make perfect flyways for birds. Birds may travel from city park to park looking for food or nesting sites. They notice your offerings along the way and you have birds!

Offer some flowers and hummingbirds, butterflies and other insects stop by.

Where you live and what you plant will determine the species attracted to your Wildlife Garden.

oriole in oak tree

Add nest boxes, bird feeders, and a source of fresh water and you now have your own little habitat in the city, suburbs or in the country.

Planning For Your Wildlife Gardens is necessary for a productive and attractive habitat.

You have horizontal and vertical areas to consider. Horizontal stretches the length of your property and vertical starts at soil and goes to your treetops.

Horizontal can have a soft or hard edge and some depth. A hard edge is a hard line that abruptly ends. A row of trees and other vegetation that stops right at the grass line of a lawn or farmers cultivated field.

A soft edge is more natural as it gradually goes from woods, to thicket, to tall grasses to meadow. Its this soft edge where most of wildlife lives on a day to day basis.

Depth depends on property lines and you.

The vertical area is composed of the canopy that is formed by large trees.

This is followed by the understory. The understory is an assortment of vegetation. From small shade tolerant trees, various bushes, small plants and vines. The floor can have ground covers, flowers, an old log and a rock or two thrown in.

Then there is the basement of your wildlife gardens. Where an assortment of organisms and creatures call home.

Imagine all of this in your yard?

my bunny

Trees are the backbone of your Wildlife Gardens.

Trees add protection, a place to raise a family, add to the flyways and the right trees offer food.

Add some smaller trees and shrubs that are excellent food sources for wildlife and you are well on your way.

Low growing plants and ground covers are critical. They play an important role for ground hunting creatures and are vital protection for fledging birds and other wildlife escaping predation.

Can you see the bunny in the pathway?

This is part of my habitat.

Creating your Wildlife Habitats starts with a pad of paper and pencil. Write down what trees, shrubs, plants and flowers you may already have in your yard or property.

Can you identify your existing plants?

How much shade do your trees offer?

Are they evergreen or do they drop their leafs in the fall.

Do they provide valuable food sources, nesting sights or protection?

Now, make a sketch of your yard with all existing plants, trees, buildings, pathways, vegetable gardens and other objects.

Some trees may have to come down because they are to close to your house or sickly. Some plants may be of little value to you or wildlife.

Once you have identified your plants and trees, decide which ones you will keep and what you will thin out, give away or destroy. Sometimes cutting down a tree or two is a good thing if it aids others plantings by allowing more sun light in.

Now sketch out what you would like for your yard. Draw in future boundaries and plantings.

Be sure to sketch plantings as a mature plant or tree. All too often we plant things to close together. Plants and trees are little and cute. We fail to see the big picture. This is a good place to fill in the voids with annuals.

As your trees, shrubs and perennials grow, you can plant fewer annuals.

Because trees are the backbone of your Wildlife Gardens and Habitats, plant them first.

a simple sketch works wonders

Here are a few things to consider.

Are the trees blocking or going to block the sun or mess with power lines in a few years?

Are you planting evergreen or deciduous trees and shrubs?

Will the trees offer food and nesting sites?

What kind of wildlife are you looking to attract?

Build some depth, color and texture.

Remember, how big will they be in 20 - 30 years from now or when they are full grown.

Now add to the understory and ground cover.

Plant perennials and annuals that offer nectar, seeds and fruits.

Offer fresh water and you have the makings of a wildlife garden.

Native plantings and regional plantings are best for the wildlife and the habitat you are making(read the links on native trees, shrubs, flowers, etc.).

However.................It is your yard.

Be sure to add some of your favorites to your Wildlife Garden (I did). Make it friendly for your eyes as well as for the wildlife.

Be sure to add depth and curves to your wildlife gardens.

It Doesn't Matter if You are Gardening for Birds, butterflies or other wildlife.

You may even want to attract bees to your yard.

What about bats or reptiles and amphibians.

Take note, your Wildlife Gardens may attract mammals also.

Put up a nice wind chime and be sure to put out a bench. Yes, make it a nice place for you to visit as well.

Native Trees That Attract Wildlife

Native Shrubs For Your Wildlife Gardens

Native Flowers

Native Grasses

Native Vines

Learn About Hummers and How to Attract Them.

Feeders to Attract Birds

Water is a Must for Any Wildlife Garden

Nest Boxes or Bird Houses

Backyard Wildlife Certification through National Wildlife Federation

Attract Butterflies

SITE BUILD IT, Share Your Passion

Wildlife Habitats, Gardens, Birds, Butterflies and Much more.

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