How to Turn Your Garden into a Wildlife Habitat - dummies

How to Turn Your Garden into a Wildlife Habitat

Part of green living is creating a balance between human civilization and the animal world. By turning your garden into a place where wildlife can make homes, feed, and breed safely without danger from pesticides and other chemicals, you help undo the damage to the many species of garden birds, insects, mammals, and amphibians that were once very common in your area but are now thinned out due to changes in farming methods and disappearing natural habitat.

You may think all insects are unwanted visitors to your garden, but that’s not the case at all. A bug is your friend if it helps pollinate your plants or controls the population of bad bugs. For example, honey bees are nature’s great pollinators; dragonflies eat mosquitoes; and ground beetles feed on root maggots, caterpillars, and slugs.

Make your garden as varied as possible to attract as many species as possible:

  • Plants like roses, honeysuckle, and lavender each attract different insects like bees and butterflies. Fuchsia and geraniums encourage hummingbirds to visit. Find more information about which native plants from your area attract helpful critters by talking to your local garden store expert or by combing the Internet.

  • A woodpile encourages another set of garden dwellers. You may find frogs in the woodpile if it’s damp. And if it’s big enough to offer a safe place, a rabbit may move in.

  • A wildflower patch can encourage native insects (including butterflies) and birds to linger in your garden. Growing a wildflower patch can be as simple as planting a wildflower mix seed packet that’s available at garden stores.

  • A pond created from an old bath or basin draws everything from dragonflies and frogs to birds and snails.

  • Change the water in your pond regularly to prevent it from becoming a mosquito breeding ground, or use a mosquito dunk — a small tablet you drop into the water to kill mosquito larvae. The biological control versions of the dunks contain bacteria that destroy the larvae and are much better for the environment than chemical versions.

  • Hedges are great for attracting birds and insects and providing protected space for small animals to make their homes. Grow as many different hedge plants as possible together in your hedge because each different plant attracts different species.

  • Trees and shrubs that produce fruit, berries, and seeds are sources of food for your furry and feathered friends.

  • Boxes and feeders attract birds, bats, and bugs galore and provide cheap entertainment.

After you spend the time and money to make your yard welcoming to wildlife, don’t sabotage your efforts by using pesticides to control weeds. You may want to target weeds, but toxic weed killers can harm other species in the ecosystem.