Landscaping for wildlife can bring nature right to your window. The secret to landscaping for wildlife is really simple: provide a habitat where they can find food, water and shelter. Begin by making a list of those animals you want to attract. Most people want to see birds and butterflies in their yards, so that’s what we’ll discuss here.
Maybe you don’t care too much for raccoons and deer, but the problem is that food to one animal is often also food to a number of other animals. So you should know that those berries that attract birds may very well attract deer. But if you live in a city, that’s probably not an issue for you.
Let’s say you want birds, then choose plants and trees that provide plenty of food and water (berries are filled with water) for them along with safe perching and nesting spots. Let’s say you want butterflies, then plants that produce nectar is what you want to have. You see? Landscaping for wildlife is really too easy.
Landscaping for wildlife 101
Many animals suffer from thirst more often than from hunger, so a good start is to have either a bird bath or a water garden. Just make sure that there are not too many hiding places next to your source of water, otherwise it will become a source of food for cats.
Your best bets, if you want to attract birds, are:
- High trees: They provide good perching and nesting spots that are a safe distance away from predators, such as cats.
- Flowering trees and bushes: Flowers attract insects, which are food to birds, and they turn into seeds and fruits, which are also food to birds.
- Vines: They can also provide food, in the form of berries and insects, and shelter.
- Conifers: There are two main reasons why birds love conifers. First, the dense needle covered branches provide a safe shelter against predators. Second, they also offer protection against harsh winds, especially in the winter time.
And here are a list of bird favorites:
- Trees: Various varieties of Ash, Birch, Crabapple and Serviceberry trees, Buckeye and Chestnut trees, Hawthorn (crataegus) and Russian Olive (elaeagnus angustifolia) trees, various varieties of yews and tall conifers, such as Pines, Junipers and Cedars.
- Bushes: Various varieties of Serviceberry, Viburnum and Cotoneaster bushes, Common Bearberry (arctostaphylos uva-usi) and Black Chokeberry (aronia melanocarpa), Butterfly bushes (buddleia davidii), Burning bushes (euonymus alatus).
- Vines: Porcelain Berry, Bittersweet, Honeysuckle and Frost Grape.
Landscaping for wildlife is really landscaping in harmony with nature. Birds also love insects that live on the ground. Worms are a favorite of birds, of course, so if your yard is rich in worms, bingo. And worms like dead leaves and compost, not chemical fertilizers. So follow the rules of green landscaping and you will have tons of worms. Birds also like to dig for insects hiding under dead leaves and twigs on the ground, so don’t clean every inch of your yard. Leave some leaves, for instance, under bushes or in the back of your flower bed. The good thing is they will also be food to worms and eventually turn into compost and be food for your plants.
And since birds suffer from thirst more often than hunger, a nice bird bath or a beautiful pond is a definite plus.
To attract hummingbirds, try the following:
- Trees: Various varieties of Crabapple trees, Buckeye and Chestnut trees.
- Bushes: Various varieties of Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), Rhododendron and Weigela.
- Vines: Trumpet Vine and various varieties of Honeysuckle.
Finally, to attract butterflies, try the following:
- Trees: Buckeye and Chestnut trees, River Birch, Green Ash, Common Honeylocust and Common Locust, Flowering Plum and Japanese Lilac.
- Bushes: Butterfly bushes (buddleia davidii), Bluebeard (caryopteris), Summersweet (clethra), Bush Honeysuckle (diervilla), Seven Son Flower (heptacodium miconioides), Rose of Sharon (hibiscus syriacus), Cinquefoil (potentilla fruticosa), thimbleberry (rubus odoratus), American Elder (sambucus canadensis) and various varieties of Lilac.
Don’t forget that, while it’s good to choose plants to attract wildlife, plants must first and foremost be chosen based on a good landscaping plan. A healthy plant will soon wither if it is in a location that is not suited for it.
Naturally, it’s a good idea to have a few bird house here and there. You will find information all over the internet on how to build good bird houses. And one last thing about birds: If you have cats that go outside, attach a bell to their collar. It will make them go crazy for a day, but it will save the lives of many birds. And good luck landscaping for wildlife.
Have you considered all the possibilities? There are some landscaping ideas you may not have thought of.