By Cindy Naas
There is a rapidly growing movement amongst gardeners to try and create more spaces for wildlife.
Whether you plant an entire garden designed to attract and feed wildlife or whether you add a few plants which can provide food for birds, this is a wonderful project for even the smallest garden.
Watching birds and butterflies decorate your garden is rewarding and fun.
Why Do We Need More Wildlife Habitat?
Habitat destruction is one of the main causes of vanishing species of songbirds, frogs etc. Even if there is a small nature preserve near your home, chances are there isn’t enough room for wildlife to roam in search of food, shelter and new mates. Adding a wildlife habitat garden creates wildlife corridors, connecting green areas with safe places for wildlife to stop and eat and rest.
How Much Room Do I need To Attract Wildlife?
Habitat gardening doesn’t have to include an acre of land filled with bluebird boxes. It can be as simple as adding in some native species of plants to an existing garden, creating a small water feature or growing a vine up a trellis or telephone pole or fence. There are many ways to add habitat to any garden, even to a garden in containers.
Won’t My Garden Attract The Wrong Sort Of Wildlife?
Wildlife gardens can be designed to attract specific animals, such as birds and butterflies. Raccoons, which are becoming an urban pest, don’t need the same conditions as butterflies and so will likely ignore your wildlife garden. Of course, they just may go for your tomatoes in pots, but that’s another problem for another column!
Is It Complicated To Design A Wildlife Garden?
Not any more complicated than designing a wonderful vegetable garden, and it is nearly as rewarding. There are also websites which give detailed plans for certain wildlife garden designs, such as butterfly gardens and natural ponds. Your own creativity will be your guide in designing a beautiful nature nook for wildlife.
Are Wildlife Gardens High Maintenance?
No. In fact, wildlife gardens designed using local native plants are actually easier to maintain than traditional foundation plantings. The native plants generally need less water since they are accustomed to your growing region. Properly sited, these plants will be hardy and will not need the kind of pruning and fertilizing that hybrid plants require. And, many native plants look attractive and provide food and shelter even during the winter months, making it unnecessary to do a big cleanup in the fall.
In addition to the above points, creating a sanctuary for birds and other creatures creates a peaceful and calming haven in the middle of the city which is something any gardener can enjoy. I love going to sit by my natural pond in the morning and watching the dragonflies hover, and listening to the birds singing in the nests in the trees in my backyard. It feels like I am in a private forest at times, and the wildlife apparently feel the same way.
Next: How to create a butterfly garden.