Creating a Wildlife-Attracting Landscape
It is rather easy to create a landscape which attracts wildlife. You could easily have animals hopping, flying and creeping into your garden every season of the year if you provide the essentials for the creatures you wish to attract. All you have to do is provide the basics of living which all creatures need. We all need food, water, shelter, and a place to raise young and call home. Provide these and you’ll have all sorts of wildlife coming to your garden.
Small critters and birds are not particular about shelter. They only require a place to hide from predators while they search for food, for a place to live and look out for a good water supply. Large and small shrubs work well for this purpose. You will often see birds hop from one shrub to another until they find a safe place to eat. The same goes for rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels who don’t like to be seen nor heard by those who can harm them or turn them into lunch.
While you could go out and buy fancy birdfeeders and keep them stocked with seed or toss around carrots and lettuce to entice rabbits and turtles to visit, this can get bothersome and expensive. Planting trees, flowers and bushes which provide natural foods easily do that with no extra work for you. If you choose the right plants they can also add interest and beauty to your landscape. Berry producing shrubs, trees which grow nuts and/or fruit and flowers with nectar and/or edible seeds will attract wildlife like crazy. Plant a few and just sit back and watch the show.
Providing water can be as easy as a mud puddle– butterflies tend to like these for the trace minerals they get from them and you can always catch a tiny bird splashing around in one—or as elaborate as a fountain with splashing water. Birdbaths are fun and come on all sorts of shapes perfect for adding interest to a small garden. Small ponds, rainwater barrows and even a bucket placed beside a hedge attract frogs, birds and dragonflies while large ponds can bring in Blue Heron, mallard ducks and cranes as well as snakes, turtles, toads and salamanders.
A place to call home
The obvious way to create a place for an animal to call home is to make a home for them such as a birdhouse for a bird, but birds still make nests in those fancy structures. The boughs and branches of sturdy trees and bushes work just as well and for the most part birds prefer them. The best plants for nest-building birds are spruce and other evergreen trees and Rosa Rugosa shrub roses.
For toads to find a nice home, just place a clay pot on its side and half bury it in the soil. Mr. Toad will love you for it. Rabbits burrow under thorny shrubs to make a safe home for their babies. The thorns help keep predators at bay. Caterpillars like host plants to hang onto before they turn into butterflies and then they lay eggs there as well. A wildflower patch is great for this purpose.
Many plants can serve the dual purpose of providing food and shelter, plus can become home sites, too, although, in general most animals like to keep those separate, so you may wish to provide two areas for them, one for feeding, one for nest building. Planting a variety of plants, flowers, shrubs, evergreens and trees will do this and will make your landscape shine.
Give them what they want
Attracting wildlife to your garden is easy. Just give them what they want. Make sure you plant some of these:
Rosa rugosa, viburnum, honeysuckle, raspberries, Russian olive, crabapple and cherry trees are great berry producers and provide excellent protection from predators.
Coreopsis, Black-eyed Susans, Daisy, Clematis and Trumpet vines provide nectar for butterflies and hummingbirds.
Columbine, Balloon Flower, Sedums, Ajuga and lemon balm have tons of pollen for flying insects.
Rhododendrons, Arborvitea, Saucer magnolias, spruce, Oak, maples, and willows make great nesting areas.
Ornamental grass, Iris and Daylily foliage, and fluffy seed-bearing trees provide good materials for nests and underground borrows.
Give them what they want and wildlife will love it in your garden.