Wildlife gardening can be a major part of your landscaping even without allowing your garden to run to weeds and be unkempt. If your objective is to provide a haven for the native wildlife in your area, then here are a few suggestions for you to consider.
Step One: Put Water in The Garden
Here are two simple ideas you can easily implement today.
- Water is the lifeblood of all of us and providing something as simple as a birdbath (kept filled) will encourage an entire range of creatures. It will obviously attract birds (and they eat a lot of insects)
- Sink an old plastic garbage can lid into the ground so you can’t see the plastic, fill it with the soil you excavated to make the hole and then keep this area well watered. You’ll be amazed at the butterflies and other creatures (like toads) that will be attracted to this muddy zone.
You can easily put the muddy section in the back of your garden, it need not be upfront where it can be seen. (Always assuming you don’t want to watch the butterflies.
Ponds are a marvelous way to get wildlife into your garden and you can read about this kind of gardening at right here
I note the picture is a robin cleaning out my potted Siberian Iris dead foliage from the edges of my small backyard pond and taking the mud from the soil to make a nest. She was very fast and efficient at cleaning the pot and making that nest. 🙂
Step Two: Add Native Shrubs and Flowers to the Back Corners
A simple design tip for wildlife gardening is to take the back corners of your property. The triangles in the corners can be as large or small as you have space to donate.
Plant native shrubs in those back corners. The shrubs will be at the back of your landscaping and can provide a hardy backdrop of green for the rest of the garden.
Convince your neighbors to do the same thing. If each of the neighbors sharing a property line does the same thing, you’ll create corridors of natural plantings for the birds and other small animals to live in. Native fruiting shrubs will also attract birds to the property.
Step Three: Pick Native Plants for Your Region
It goes without saying that you want to use plants that are native to your region
The deal here is that many garden centers sell “native plants” and they are but not to your region. What’s the point of planting prairie plants if you live in the Northeast?
You won’t provide food and shelter to the birds and small creatures that are native to your zone.
Find a native plant nursery in your area (you may have to hunt a bit but start by calling local conservation areas – mine actually propagates and sells trees and shrubs native to our zone) Some of these plants aren’t very “landscape oriented”. In other words, the foliage may be sparse or bugs may love to eat them (this is good because without bugs, the birds won’t have anything to eat). The flowers may not be as large as the ornamental shrubs that are sold in garden shops.
But the point here is that you’re growing them wildlife gardening rather than ornamental gardening.
This is why I suggest you can plant these shrubs at the back corners of your property and then ignore them while they grow and provide food and shelter for the wildlife. Grow your ornamentals in front of the natives.
Do these three simple things and you’ll quickly be amazed at how fast birds and small creatures show up in your garden. And a natural balance is something we can all strive for in our wildlife gardening efforts.