23 Simple DIY Tips for Creating a Wildlife-Friendly Garden
Did you know that your backyard could be serving as an important refuge for the local wildlife? This isn’t just limited to animals like birds and insects. Depending on where you live, you may have other interesting visitors like deers, woodchucks, and frogs. In this article, you can learn a few tips to make your garden a welcoming place for these animals.
Before you start planning, the first thing you should do is to find out the types of wildlife species in your area. Sites like eNature has a directory that’ll show a list of local wildlife based on the zip code. Once you’ve identified a list of animals, research what they are attracted to.
23 Tips for Creating Wildlife-Friendly Gardens
In addition to what you may have found in your research, here are some tips you could also apply to create a wildlife-friendly garden or backyard. First, let’s start off with some general tips on attracting wildlife to the backyard.
Replacing the Lawn: if your lawn takes up the majority of your backyard space then consider replacing some of it with a variety of plants and shrubs.
Safe Fences: some fences could pose a hazard if they have loose wires and sharp edges. Check the backyard fence and remove anything that might cause an animal to get hurt.
Tree & Shrubs: different animals thrive at different elevations. Plant a variety of trees and shrubs in your backyard to also provide shelter for animals that prefer to be higher up from the ground.
Go Organic: stop using any chemicals that could be toxic to the wildlife. These may include products like pesticide and herbicide.
Get Certified: show your commitment to conserving the local wildlife by getting certified for the National Wildlife Federation’s natural habitat program.
Tips for Attracting Small Animals
Log Piles: make great natural garden seats and may also attract a wide range of insects and mammals. If you are lucky then you may have a hedgehog come by and eat all the slugs away.
Food Source: unless they pose a major problem for your garden, don’t try and actively kill pests like slugs and grasshoppers. Providing a regular source of prey is a good way to keep animals like hedgehogs and praying mantis in your backyard.
Table Scraps: every once in a while, leaving a bit of table scraps in your backyard could attract interesting animals like foxes. Don’t do it too often though as you don’t want the local wildlife to be dependent on the scraps you give out.
Makeshift Shelters: want to attract amphibians like frogs and toads to your backyard? You can create a simple shelter for them by turning a ceramic pot upside down then propping it up with rocks. Leave enough space for a frog or toad to slip inside.
Fallen Leaves: rake the leaves and pile them up in a shaded corner of your backyard. The leaves could provide both food and shelter for many different species, including toads, frogs, newts, and hedgehogs.
Bat Houses: bats can be your BFFs if you live in an area filled with mosquitoes. Provide a place for bats to roost by building a free-standing bat house in your backyard.
Tips for Attracting Birds
Dead Trees: did you know that more than 80 species of bird rely on dead trees for reasons such as nesting and food storage? If there is a dead tree in your backyard and it
doesn’t pose a safety hazard then consider preserving it for the birds.
Bird Bath: birds need a place where they can shower and remove dirt embedded on their feathers. A good bird bath should have sloping sides and should not be deeper than three inches.
Sound of Water: in addition to placing a bird bath, you might want to also “advertise” and let the birds hear the sound of running water in your backyard by using a small drip hose or fountain pump. They should be reasonable inexpensive.
Variety of Food: different birds prefer different foods. If you have a bird feeder in your backyard then consider offering a variety of food types. Examples include black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corns, peanuts, oats, and mealworms.
Hedges: while it’s great to provide nest boxes for the birds, some may prefer to build their own nests. Provide hedges with dense cover to allow birds to build natural nest sites.
Keep Track: Share your backyard bird sightings by submitting the data to Feeder Watch, a project by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.
Nesting Season: avoid trimming trees and shrubs during nesting season. The duration required for birds to complete their nesting cycle varies by species. Most birds have an active nesting cycle of 1 to 3 weeks so delay the trimming until the babies have left.
Tips for Attracting Insects
Bee Nesting: bees have been having a tough time lately. According to one study, beekeepers across the US lost 44% of their bee colonies between 2015 and 2016. Don’t just leave the conservation work to the professionals. You can also be a bee guardian by placing bee nesters in your backyard.
Sunlight: butterflies and monarchs typically feed only in the sun. Observe your backyard and grow nectar source plants in areas that receive plenty of sunlight.
Bright Colors: in addition to pollen-rich plants, insects like butterflies are attracted to bright colors. Consider planting flowers like Alyssum, Butterfly Bush, Goldenrod, and Lavender.
Compost heaps: maintain the level of nutrients in the ground by composting your garden waste. Compost heaps can provide shelter for a number of insects like earthworms and centipedes. Compost will also attract insects like slugs and snails, which in turn will attract predators like hedgehogs and toads.
Beneficial Insects: you can learn more about ways to attract good insects to your backyard by reading our beneficial insects article. Find out how to attract insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and ground beetles.
4 Friendly Animals to Attract to Your Backyard
Ready to start a wildlife-friendly backyard? We’ve already started the research for you. Here is a list of five cool animals to attract to your backyard.
These small, colorful birds can be found in many places across the Western Hemisphere. Hummingbirds burn an insane amount of calories when they fly so they actually spend the large majority of their time (75-80%) sitting. To attract hummingbirds, consider growing brightly-colored flowers and provide a safe area for them to perch.
This cute little mammal can be a valuable pest controller in your backyard. Hedgehogs prefer areas where there’s shelter and food. Consider leaving wild patches around your garden and make sure they can access your backyard by leaving small openings in fences and boundaries. Compost heaps can act as great sanctuaries for hedgehogs, especially due to the abundance of insects that comes with it.
According to the Northern American Butterfly Association, there are approximately 20,000 species of butterflies in the world! To attract butterflies to your backyard, make sure there are patches of land that receives plenty of sunlight. Butterflies also like bright colors so consider growing a variety of flowers in your garden.
Owls can make great backyard visitors, especially if you have a rodent problem at home. If your backyard doesn’t have many trees then consider getting an elevated nest box. In addition to providing a place for the owls to roost, it may also help to provide a water source in a secluded area of the backyard.