Birds, bees, butterflies, bunnies… these critters and more all have a place as part of a healthy natural landscape. If you love wildlife and want to attract more of it to your yard, you can do it through colors and fragrance, plants and berries. Here are some ideas for adding the right elements to bring more life to your space.
Bring On The Birds
Birds are pretty easy to attract but the variety and species will depend on a number of things.
If you want to see more of these flighty characters, you’ll need to create a space where they can feel safe and find food and water. If you have too much open space or the surrounding trees are too immature, birds may not find the protected harbor they’re looking for.
Creating nesting spaces with bird boxes and houses is a good idea but some species prefer their own homes, so aim for areas of dense and mature vegetation that can serve as both nesting space and protection from predators.
On the other hand, some species of grassland birds prefer tall grasses where they can hide, feed and use it as a takeoff point to escape predators. Choose the native variety rather than ornamental grasses if you want to attract these species.
Some types of flowers will also keep the birds coming back for more. Sunflowers are an excellent buffet and add a bright splash of color, too.
If you want to attract hummingbirds, look for nectar producing flowers like honeysuckle, bougainvillea and trumpet vines among others. Hummingbirds are also territorial, so if you want to attract more of these backyard favorites, you can set up feeders and feeding areas in different parts of your yard.
Plants and trees that produce fruits, berries and seeds are also naturally attractive to birds. Crabapple, dogwood, holly bushes, goldenrod – all of these will please your feathered friends. And a well planned landscape will also take winter wildlife into account. The right plants and trees can attract the beautiful red cardinals that add a much-needed touch of color to a monochromatic winter view.
Finally, ensure that you have plenty of water where birds can drink and play. A fountain or pond adds a great touch to your space and can also be beneficial in attracting birds.
Enjoy The Flight Of The Butterfly
Butterflies not only add color and a bit of whimsy to your garden but they are also useful for helping pollinate flowers. Color is especially important if you want to attract adult butterflies, which prefer red, yellow, orange, pink and purple.
The type of flower is important, too. Goldenrod, lavender and asters are three butterfly favorites.
Butterflies also feed in the sun, so your nectar sources should be in full sun from mid morning through mid afternoon.
Sun is important to butterflies for other reasons, too. Sunlight warms their wings for flight and even helps them orient themselves. If you want to create a haven for butterflies, be sure to provide them with flat surfaces to rest and sun themselves. Flat stones are an excellent choice and also make an attractive addition to your landscape.
Perhaps most importantly, however, if you want butterflies you’ll need to start with caterpillars. Butterfly caterpillars feed on specific native plants but do not cause the damage we often associate with some moth caterpillars.
Milkweed is an ideal source of food for butterfly caterpillars, but beware lookalikes: some plants have been cultivated to mimic native varieties. These may fool the human eye but not the hungry caterpillar.
Watch The Bunnies Nibble
Admittedly, not everyone wants to bring bunnies into the garden, especially if you’re growing vegetables. If you’ve got lettuce, carrots, strawberries or raspberries among other plants and berries, you won’t have to extend the invitation – the bunnies will come to you. Unfortunately, they may not be your favorite visitors.
But if you wouldn’t mind the occasional glimpse of fuzzy tail or a contented rabbit munching on some grass, you can make them feel at home with safe shelter and plenty of snacks.
Areas of dense, tall grasses are the perfect haven for rabbits. They can hide and dine at the same time. They will also enjoy the sunflowers you may have planted to attract birds, as well.
Rabbits particularly enjoy berry bushes (like those raspberries, strawberries and even blackberries). And if you want to keep them around during winter months along with the cardinals, then provide plenty of woody vegetation. During cold months rabbits feed off the bark and twigs of white oak, sumac and dogwood.
Stick To Native Plants And Wildlife Will Be Part Of Your Daily View
Whether you want more birds, bees, bunnies, or even deer, chipmunks and squirrels, your best bet is to plant a variety of native plants – that means plants and trees that are indigenous to your area. Stay away from ornamentals, look-alikes and exotic plants. They may look interesting but the local wildlife won’t be amused.
Depending on the species you want to attract, you can use a combination of color, fragrance, berries, height and texture among different types of plants, trees and bushes.
If you’d like to attract more of the right kind of wildlife to your yard, let us know! We’re here to answer your questions and turn your outdoor space into the living space of your dreams.