With spring on the way it’s a good time to start planning for next year’s garden. Why not plan a garden that is enjoyable not only for people but native wildlife as well? In a world of concrete and pesticides it is difficult for birds, butterflies and other animals to find adequate food sources and safe places to reproduce. Creating a haven for wildlife in your yard is simple and the benefits are well worth it. Native species pollinate plants and creating a healthy ecosystem attracts beneficial insects which in turn help to prevent and eliminate pest problems. Working with nature instead of against it makes good sense and is also less labor intensive!
To make animals comfortable in your yard they need food, a water source, cover and a place to raise their young. Food sources can be provided by choosing native plants that will supply seeds, nectar, fruit and/or nuts. Supplemental feeders such as birdhouses also provide food. Water sources could include a birdbath, shallow dish, rain garden or of course a lake, pond, river or stream. Animals need cover to hide from predators and to protect themselves during bad weather. A wooded area, brush or log pile, roosting box or ground cover can provide the cover they need. To raise young, animals need things like dense shrubs, mature trees or if you don’t have these a nesting box. Host plants for caterpillars will attract butterflies.
The National Wildlife Federation offers a program where you can certify your backyard as a certified wildlife habitat. The steps are fairly simple and if your not quite there yet they offer tips to get you there. The certification fee is $20 and it includes a personalized certificate, a subscription to their magazine and their online newsletter. If you choose you can upload a picture of your wildlife garden that they will add to their website (flickr). There are a variety of yard signs available for purchase once you are certified which vary in price. Maybe showing your neighbors that you’ve taken such compassionate and earth friendly measures will encourage them to do the same!
For details go to: www.nwf.org/Home/How-to-Help/Garden-for-Wildlife.aspx