It’s that time of year when everyone is making resolutions for the New Year. If you’re a wildlife gardener, here’s some suggestions for creating more welcoming habitat for wildlife in your garden this year.
Start With Just One Thing
Imagine if doing just one thing for wildlife could really make a difference. I know this sounds hokey, but it’s true. We could make a huge difference for our local wildlife if each of us chose just one item to do in our wildlife garden. Really.
You don’t have to redesign the landscape of your entire property. You don’t have to rip out your entire lawn (although parting with some would be a great improvement for wildlife right there). You don’t have to become a native plant purist. You just have to choose one helpful task and do it. If we each did just that much, struggling wildlife populations would have a better chance.
The Two Most Important Actions to Help Wildlife
Taking just these two steps would make a huge difference for the wildlife in your area. And teaching your neighbors to take the same action will magnify your efforts and help a lot more.
Now I’m not saying there’s some kind of magic bullet that would solve all of the dangers facing our native wildlife, but doing these two things will certainly help to stem the tide of their decline.
Three: Lead by Example
“Here’s what I started to think about. What if places frequented by many people, every week, became good examples of sound environmental practices and advocated for conservation landscapes? You know, wildlife gardens. What if they planted wildlife habitat instead of lawn? What if the people who visited observed these landscapes and learned about the benefits of these wild life gardens and acted on changing their own yards to include natural landscapes? Hmmm.” Catherine Zimmerman
Four: Welcome Bugs
“So, are insects good for the garden? The answer is yes. We tend to notice those that damage our plants and overlook the ones that are harmless or beneficial to the ecosystem that is our garden. Worse yet, sometimes we paint all insects with the same brush and want to kill them all. The fact is that many, probably most, insects are invaluable components of the ecosystem. It is wise to learn to recognize and appreciate these gardener friends. A good dose of curiosity may allow you to enjoy their intriguing, sometimes perplexing, comings and goings if you manage to overcome your bias against insects.” ~ Beatriz Moisset
Five: Butterflies Add Beauty
“To make your butterfly garden a success, you will need to supply both nectar and larval host plants. Nectar plants will feed the adult butterflies. Larval or host plants are those that will feed the caterpillars. Different species of butterflies have different needs, especially when it comes to the native butterfly host plants. Caterpillars are important. Without caterpillars, there are no butterflies.” ~Kathy Villim
Six: Pollinators Are Really Important
“First, learning that there are more than 4,000 species of native bees on this continent—four thousand species!—introduced me to the astonishing diversity of native pollinators. I had no idea that there were so many kinds of bees that had evolved with North American flora, ranging from bees as tiny as the period on the end of this sentence to carpenter bees almost as long as my thumb. Nor did I realize that native bees were generally easy-going.” ~Susan J. Tweit
Seven Steps to Birdscaping Your Garden
Birdscaping is one of the very few activities that truly follows the motto “If you build it, they will come,” and grants immediate gratification.
I’ve seen proof of this over and over in my work designing and installing wildlife gardens. One day I was installing a long waterfall into a pond because my client wanted to provide a water source for the birds. I was just smoothing the liner into the trench when suddenly there was a Black-throated Green Warbler hopping along the waterfall, even though there was no water yet.
Believe me, I got that liner installed, inserted the rocks to create the waterfall and got the water running in record time! And you will experience this as well when you choose to birdscape your garden.
Birdscaping is arranging your landscape to create welcoming habitats for birds, including rest stops for migrating birds, safe places for breeding birds to raise their young, and food and shelter for winter residents. It is providing for the basic needs of birds through your landscape choices. Birdscaping is much more than putting up a few birdfeeders.
YOUR Resolution for your Wildlife Garden?
What will you do to create more welcoming habitat for wildlife in your garden this year? What projects do you have planned for the coming year to attract more wildlife to your garden. Please leave a comment below and share with us what you will be doing to give a little back to wildlife this year.
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.
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