We’ve been talking about the essentials of an Ecosystem Garden for wildlife in the past several weeks. These are habitat elements critical to the wildlife you’d like to share your space with.
In part 1 we discussed Ecosystem Gardening Essentials: Provide Food For Wildlife
In part 2 we talked about Ecosystem Gardening Essentials: Provide Water for Wildlife.
In part 4 we learned about Ecosystem Gardening Essentials: Provide Safe Places to Raise Young.
Today we’re going to talk about the essential wildlife habitat element of shelter.
And shelter means more than just hanging a few birdhouses (although I have Chickadees who find shelter from the winter elements in the birdhouses in my wildlife garden).
What does shelter for wildlife include in your wildlife garden? The wildlife in our gardens need to have safe places to hide from predators, get out of heat, wind, rain, snow, and frigid temperatures
Trees and Shrubs
Trees are one of the biggest bangs for your buck in your wildlife garden as they provide not only food for so many species, but they are also the best form of shelter you can provide to keep them safe, warm, and dry.
Trees create wonderful windbreaks, not only for wildlife, but also to keep your home warmer in winter.
Native evergreen trees, such as Pines, provide shelter from the elements, and food for many different species.
Adding more native trees and shrubs to your garden will ensure that many different critters will find food and shelter in your wildlife haven. For a little help in choosing the best trees and shrubs for your site, see Top 10 Best Woody Plants for Your Ecosystem Garden.
Brush piles are a very important habitat element for many different kinds of wildlife. They provide cover from predators and places for nests, escape routes, and dens. Many insects are attracted to this pile of decomposing wood, which provides a bounty of food for birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.
An amazing array of wildlife makes their home in the leaf litter, including spiders, many butterflies and moths in various life stages, other insects, salamanders, frogs and toads, and other wildlife. One of the biggest joys of my life is watching the many birds who spend all winter and spring picking through my leaves in search of something good to eat.
My friend Pat Sutton had this to say about the value of the leaves:
Rake leaves? Never! Once I learned that so many of our butterflies (and moths) winter in leaf litter as partially grown caterpillars or as a chrysalis, I abandoned even the thought of raking
Our own Ellen Sousa put it this way:
Leaf litter is also valuable habitat for many forms of beneficial garden wildlife, including predatorial insects, butterfly caterpillars, springtails, mites, as well as the many birds who scratch around in leaves eating all those bugs and insects.
And Heather Holm put it this way:
Leaves provide habitat for so many organisms during the different stages of their lifecycles. Without a good layer of leaf litter left on the ground, we are severing so many of the connections in the food and plant web in our ecosystems. Leaves provide much-needed protection from cold temperatures during the winter months, as well as the fluctuating freeze-thaw cycles.
Add More Shelter to Your Wildlife Garden
Providing shelter for wildlife in your garden is easy when you understand what these animals need. You will be helping them stay safe from predators and providing protection from extremes of heat and cold, wind and rain.
What’s your favorite way of providing shelter for wildlife in your garden?
Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.
© 2011 – 2012, Carole Sevilla Brown. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com If you are reading this at another site, please report that to us