BACKYARD HABITATS

You can attract wildlife to your yard by creating a habitat complete with food, water, cover, and nesting areas.  You don't need to redo your whole yard to attract wildlife; you just need to add a few essential features.  A wildlife garden can fit in with almost any landscape style.

Here are some general elements to think about when making your yard a more suitable habitat:

Connectivity

Fences and walls are often barriers to wildlife.  So if you have a fence as a border, check to see if there is enough space under it to allow wildlife to pass through.  If there's not, make some.  Either dig holes under it or cut holes in the bottom (holes about the size of an iPad are ideal) and space the holes about every 8 feet or so.  (If you cut holes, check with your neighbor first if he or she is partial owner of the fence.)  If you have a wall, make sure that there is at least one entry point.  For example, if you have a gate, make sure there is enough space under it.  If you are replacing your fence, wall, or hedge, avoid putting up a new wall. Walls cannot usually be dug under, so they're worse for wildlife.

Food

Animals need a reliable food source in order to thrive in a habitat.  It is generally best to provide natural food sources such as native plants that bear fruit, seeds, or nectar, although in some cases artificial food sources like bird feeders can also be beneficial. 

Water

Wildlife need water, and they're more likely to find your yard if there are water sources along the way.  A terra-cotta dish, like the kind that is placed under a potted plant, filled with water is a good choice.  Keep the dish filled every night.  A pond or fountain with a pump is even better, because the animals will hear water and be drawn to it.  Encourage your neighbors to provide water as well.

 

Cover and Nesting Areas

Native plants not only provide food for wildlife, but also in many cases give them a place to hide from predators. Additionally, you can add artificial spaces for wildlife to live in, such as birdhouses, bat houses, and beehives.  

Avoiding Disturbances

Pets such as dogs and cats are common predators of wildlife, and even if they don't directly kill animals, they may still disturb them and make your yard less inviting of a habitat.  Therefore, it's best to keep your pets inside.  Another common type of disturbance to watch out for is tree and shrub trimming.  Avoid doing this type of yard work more than necessary, and especially be careful during the bird nesting season.

Click on a topic below to learn more about making your yard a habitat:

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