How to Make Your Landscape Wildlife-Friendly
Most of us would like more wildlife to visit our yards, and making your landscape attractive to birds, mammals and invertebrates doesn’t have to involve a lot of work. By maintaining your landscape in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way ensures that the soil, air, and water that we (and native wildlife) rely upon stay clean and healthy.
Plus, wildlife gardening gives you the chance to get to know many common Virginia species. Having regular wildlife visitors allows you to learn more about their behavior and observe the trials and tribulations of their daily lives. With that said, let’s dive into some easy tips for creating a wildlife haven in your very own backyard.
Wildlife Gardening Tips
Let The Soil Settle
To increase populations of earthworms and beetle larvae, don’t dig your soil unless planting. Lay a layer of compost on top of the soil to provide habitat for invertebrates, foraging for birds, and other wildlife.
Create “stepping stones” to connect formerly isolated areas with your landscape by adding native plants. Make small changes, one plant at a time. For the biggest impact, especially in suburban yards, select plants that support the greatest number of species.
Trees and shrubs sustain more species than perennials and are often the best place to start. Planting different species of plants will create cover and ensure a constant supply of habitat and food throughout the year.
Feed the Birds
Regularly offering a diversity of food can attract a range of birds, such as the American Goldfinch, Northern Cardinal, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. To prevent grey squirrels from raiding your feeders and eating all of your bird’s food – place feeders at least 6-feet high and with a 12-foot radius to the nearest object.
Create Nesting Spaces for Birds
If suitable trees or hedges for birds to nest in are not present, or you would like to supplement them, put up nesting boxes for birds to use. There are many kinds of bird nesting boxes available commercially.
Each box contains different features and is targeted at a particular bird species. But not all nesting boxes are created equal. There are several features to consider when purchasing or building a nesting box.
- Constructed of natural untreated wood (pine, cedar or fir).
- Lumber for walls that is at least ¾ of an inch thick to provide insulation.
- An entrance hole of the appropriate size to allow desired birds to enter but keep larger birds out.
- An entrance that is the correct distance from the floor to accommodate the nest.
- An extended and sloped roof to keep the rain out.
- A recessed floor and drainage holes to keep the interior dry.
- Rough or grooved interior walls to help fledglings exit.
- Ventilation holes to allow the interior to remain cool.
- A side or top panel that opens to allow easy access for monitoring and cleaning.
- No outside perches, which aid predators and other harassing birds.
Stack Your Sticks
Love Your Lawn
Regardless of size, wildlife-friendly water features will attract animals that will keep your backyard landscape flourishing. It can also serve as a lovely centerpiece for your garden and a source of entertainment for all that visit.
Water features do not have to replicate a natural one but can be designed and shaped to look modern and contemporary. Most importantly, the water features should be built with an aim of attracting wildlife of all types, creating food sources, potential shelter, and protection for fauna.
Keep Things Varied
It’s easy to encourage numerous invertebrate species to an area, and these will give endless enjoyment. Concentrate on invertebrates such as grasshoppers first – larger species will follow in time.
Certify Your Garden
Anyone can create a welcoming haven for local wildlife. Turning your yard, balcony container garden, schoolyard, work landscape, or roadside greenspace into a wildlife habitat is fun, easy, and can make a lasting difference for wildlife. Check out the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat® program to learn how to certify your garden today!