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Reclaiming wildlife habitat yard by yard is a vital step anyone can take just outside their door. Re-establishing native plant communities and protecting the local watershed with sustainable gardening practices is what gardening for wildlife is all about.
Here are some simple ways you can provide the essential habitat components of food, water, cover, and places to raise young while designing a garden space that appeals to your aesthetics and enhances the natural landscape.
There many options, such as bird-, bee-, and butterfly-friendly gardens, rain gardens and water gardens, meadow or prairie gardens, etc. Existing trees and plantings in your yard may help dictate what native plants will do well.
Observe the amount of sun and shade your intended garden habitat receives during the day. For example, any area that gets six or more hours of sunlight will thrive with sun-loving plants. Areas that tend to collect water or stay moist will be suitable for more wetland plants.
Clear new planting site of all turf grass and weeds, unless your soil is too compacted to plant in—natives do not need much soil amendment. In fact, soil that is too rich and loamy results in very tall plants that can flop over.
These can be natural, like an anchoring shrub, tree, or hollow log. Human touches, like a birdbath, fountain, bench, or sculpture can add interest and draw people in to the landscape.
Well-designed borders, paths, hedges, plant islands, and fencing frame the features of the garden and provide a neat appearance that your neighbors will appreciate.
Wildlife need food, water, cover, and places to raise young with flowers, shrubs, trees, and grasses all year. To understand the benefits of these read about Plant for Diversity, then explore the types of plants and wildlife native to your area by entering your zip code in the Native Plant Finder.
You will get larger color and textural impact, and eye-catching patterns throughout the garden bed or landscape. This technique also draws the eye into the garden and the close plantings will prevent weed groups and minimize the need for excess mulching.
Evergreens, native grasses, or taller plants will help frame smaller plants.
Maintaining your landscape in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way ensures that the soil, air, and water that native wildlife (and people) rely upon stay clean and healthy.
Explain to your neighbors the intent and design of your garden and yard that may not conform to common garden or neighborhood association expectations.
Show why you have designed your yard intentionally to help wildlife and encourage them to do the same.