There are many benefits to green living. Â One of my favorites, and one that I wasn’t expecting was having my small suburban yard become a wildlife haven.
Fred and I have always loved being outdoors. Gardening and yard work are a big part of our lives. Â 15 years ago we started making small changes each year in our landscape.
In that time we planted bushes and trees that areÂ indigenousÂ to our area. Â They are winter hardy, low maintenance, and drought tolerant. Â Â We stopped usingÂ pesticides and fertilizers and started using compost as top dressing for the gardens. Â Â We turned 60% of our lawn area into gardens for flowers, vegetables and a pond.
Butterflies, hummingbirds, dragonflies and honey bees became daily visitors.
Birds started nesting in our pine trees.
Chipmunks took up residence under the deck.
Nancy from our local Wild Birds Unlimited store told us about the National Wildlife Foundation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program.
We certified our backyard and you can too using theseÂ guidelines.Â Â Whether you live on 40 acres or have a city balcony, you can provide habitat for many small creatures, and enjoy the pleasure of their company.
Food: Food is key. Feeders are great, but you can also feed wildlife by planting shrubs and flowers that are native to your landscape. This will provide nectar, pollen and seeds depending on the season. Â Our compost pile is covered by wide screening. We see birds, squirrels andÂ chipmunksÂ raiding the bin weekly.
Water: Lake, river, pond or birdbath water provides a critical element to survival. Â A butterfly puddler can be a lovely way to provide water. Â Find a pretty platter or plate at the thrift store, put mud and water in it, add a pretty tea cup upside down for he butterflies to rest and warm themselves on and Voila! You will have a lovely water source on your patio.
Cover: Provide shelter for the animals you are trying to attract. The shrubs that provide food can also provide shelter. Â A birdhouse, bat house, or toad abode can be decorative as well as functional.
Family Life:Â Give wild creatures a place to safely raise their young. Brush piles are great for this as well as mature trees, a nesting box or a thicket.
The NationalÂ WildlifeÂ Foundation also recommends ecofriendly gardening practices such as soil and water conservation through the use of mulch, and rain barrels, replacing invasive plants with Â native species and eliminating chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Is your backyard a Wildlife Habitat?