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Smart Garden

How to Turn Your Backyard into a Wildlife Habitat

 How to Turn Your Backyard 

Creating a backyard wildlife habitat is very simple. Planting native plants and nectar-rich flowers, providing food and water sources, and avoiding pesticides are some of the cornerstones of attracting attractive species such as birds and butterflies to your garden. Get started on creating a wildlife park with the tips and ideas in this guide.

1. Mix floral patterns

Different pollinators prefer different flower shapes. Some prefer flat clusters of small flowers, while others plant trumpet-shaped flowers. In the garden shown here, native plants such as coneflower, New England aster, and butterfly weed provide a variety of floral patterns to attract a variety of wildlife.

2. Create a layered look

With multi-tiered, densely packed deciduous and evergreen trees, understory fruiting shrubs and vines, and ground-level grasses and perennials, you'll attract a huge variety of wildlife. The garden shown here has a wildlife-pleasing mix of perennials, shrubs and trees that provide habitat and structure year-round. Coneflower, Russian sage, sedum, salvia, henna, phlox and hydrangea were chosen for their pollinating ability.

3. Restore native plant communities

Planting native flowers and grasses among native trees and shrubs creates a self-sustaining environment that supports seasonal resident birds, butterflies, bees, amphibians and mammals. Additionally, native plants require less maintenance than non-native species because they are better suited to the soil and climate.

4. Plant a lawn

A wildflower meadow takes some planning and preparation to pull off successfully, but it can be a sustainable lawn replacement as well as an excellent wildlife habitat. As with any garden, you need to consider your soil type, moisture and sunlight patterns, then choose wildflower seed mixes designed to grow well in your area. It's also important to keep up with weeding, especially as your lawn gets established.

5. Place in a pond

A pond can provide a refreshing drink for wildlife and a habitat for fish, frogs and other water-loving creatures. Thoughtfully placed plants, including hardy and tropical water lilies, papyrus and arrowroot, are key ingredients for a healthy ecosystem in and around water.

6. Add a bird bath

Birdbaths are an easy way to attract wildlife, especially feathered friends who appreciate a safe place to drink and bathe. Birdbaths are available in a variety of styles and materials. Birds prefer shallow basins no deeper than 2 inches and do well with rough surfaces. For protection against lurking cats and other predators, place the birdbath a few feet away from a tree or shrub so that the surrounding area is immediately open, but close to quick-access shelters.

7. Provide cover

Hedgerows and densely planted beds provide shelter for birds and other small animals from predators and the elements. Native trees and shrubs provide excellent sites for nesting and raising young. Brush piles provide alternative habitats for animals. Leave trees and shrubs in an outside corner of your yard.

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