Wildlife Friendly Planting

While most types of backyard landscapes can support some wildlife, you can maximize your yard's habitat value with plants that provide food, cover, or other benefits to animals.  A well-designed wildlife friendly yard is beneficial to both you and the wildlife.  While animals take advantage of the food, water, and shelter you provide for them, you can enjoy the ability to observe nature in your own backyard.

Native vs. Nonnative Plants

Native plants are generally considered best for wildlife friendly landscapes because you can use them to mimic naturally existing habitat in your area.  One of their main benefits is that native animals are adapted to them already, which is especially important for food-source plants.  Also, the plants have a good chance of growing well in their native area, and typically use less water than their nonnative counterparts.

Some people use nonnative plants in wildlife gardens, particularly to provide cover.  This is because certain species grow faster and more vigorously than native plants, and create thick areas of vegetation in which wildlife can find shelter.  However, these plants often harbor animals that the homeowner was not intending to attract, such as large populations of nonnative rodents.  They can also spread beyond your property, overrun surrounding ecosystems, and be difficult to eradicate.

Food Sources
Most of the plants known to support wildlife do so by providing food or cover.