Helping to sustain wildlife in the garden is a rewarding way to ensure their survival and create an appreciation for the natural world.
Whether a person dwells in the city or country, on a large property or in a small, rented place, there are simple, natural ways to invite wildlife to share the space.
The following seven methods of attracting and providing for birds, insects, and other wild animals throughout the seasons will enable their survival and provide endless opportunities for observation and education.
Use existing property features and vegetation to provide shelter
A loosely built, natural stone wall or other rock formations are living spaces for such many insects and their eggs – spiders, woodlice, springtails, millipedes, bees and wasps to name a few. If the property doesn’t have a stone wall, consider building one as part of a garden feature.
Similarly, a woodpile or a few old stumps arranged creatively in a garden will give insects and other dirt-dwellers extra hiding places. When clearing brush, save a small heap of branches from laying somewhere on the property to provide shelter or shade for birds.
Remember each January that a recycled Christmas tree placed in the yard for the birds until springtime is twice the value for what it cost.
Create feeding stations to help sustain wildlife
Birdfeeders are an ideal way to attract birds. Since they come in all shapes and sizes and can be attached to the outside of apartment windows, or mounted on poles in the middle of a field, the possibilities are endless. A knowledgeable salesperson at a garden centre can provide assistance with the type of feeder and seed that is appropriate. Here’s our Apple Winter Bird Feeder that you can easily make at home.
It's so nice to see birds in the garden and at this time of year they are probably getting a little peckish. Here is a quick and easy eco-friendly birdfeeder to make at home to give them a little boost. You can use apples that have gone a bit wrinkly in the fruit bowl that you don't fancy eating to save them going in the bin.
- Natural Peanut Butter
- Jute Cord or string
- Straw or apple corer
- Slice the apple horizontally about 1/2 inch thick.
- Use the straw or apple corer to make a hole in the centre of each apple slice.
- Cut a length of jute cord or string about 18 inches long
- Cover each apple slice with a thin, even layer of peanut butter.
- Press the slice into the birdseed to coat the slice fully.
- Put the jute cord or string through the hole in the middle of each slice.
- Hang separately outdoors, or tie two or three slices on one longer lenthg of string.
Hummingbirds require sugar solution in special feeders, whereas wild turkeys might scavenge on the ground under seed feeders that blue jays, cardinals, and chickadees frequent.
Birds like woodpeckers love suet, and others prefer fruit like oranges. Mealworms are another option for the more knowledgeable and experienced caretakers.
Squirrels, mice, moles, and voles appreciate fallen seed and dried corn cobs, too.
Erect birdhouses and nesting places for other wildlife
Wooden birdhouses on poles, decorative hollow gourds hung in trees, ceramic or clay vessels, or other kinds of birdhouses invite feathered friends to nest. Since some birds prefer specific kinds of dwellings, remember that a salesperson at a garden center can provide advice on what is appropriate.
But houses are not limited to feathered residents. A bat house, which must be configured and hung in a specific manner, will give these nocturnal visitors a place to roost and set up insect-reduction patrol in your area. Bats are helpful to the environment and should not be feared, and are fun to watch in the sky at twilight.
Establish a water feature in the garden
Water features like birdbaths and small ponds attract birds, who drink from and bathe in them. Birdbaths are helpful year-round, and won’t freeze when a birdbath heater is used. Consider creating a small pool of circulating water or erecting a fountain as part of a formal garden.
It is possible to create a man-made pond on larger pieces of acreage, with proper instruction. Doing so will invite frogs, turtles, and other wildlife who rely on that kind of habitat, whether to live in or to find food. Dragonflies, which feed on mosquito larvae, thrive at open ponds and are like flying jewels in the sunlight.
Plant fruit and nut bearing trees and shrubs
When planting shrubs and trees for landscaping, choose fruit-bearing species and trees that produce nuts, which are an attractive choice for the landscape and wildlife, providing food, shade, and shelter for them. Fruit-bearing plants like juniper, crabapple, and cherry will attract birds who prefer fruit, like cedar waxwings.
Holly bushes, winterberry, and viburnum also produce small berries that birds look to for sustenance. Orchard fruit, like apples, are tasty to animals like deer when the fruit has fallen to the ground. Nut-bearing trees, like oaks, produce acorns that squirrels, wild turkeys, and deer love to eat.
Plant a flower garden for insects and hummingbirds
Butterflies, praying mantis, bees, ladybugs, caterpillars, and other insects that inhabit gardens love fragrant, vivid flowers. Attract butterflies by planting purple coneflowers, butterfly bush, bee balm, and asters.
Hummingbirds will also love drinking sweet nectar from a garden with trumpet vine, butterfly bush, and columbine. Other insects will find prey among the variety of plants, and insect-eating birds will benefit, as well.
Maintain a peaceful and chemical-free environment
Animals instinctively feel safest in environments that are peaceful and natural. Areas with a lot of noise and constant disturbance will deter visits.
Additionally, using lots of lawn chemicals or odorous fertilizers is not only uninviting, but it is also dangerous to wildlife and the food chain in general. Investigate more natural, organic options for the yard.
In winter, try our chemical free Pet Safe Ice Melter recipe.
Following these seven simple steps will help create balance and establish boundaries when inviting wildlife to share the property. While this may take some time to cultivate, the benefits of coexisting with diverse wildlife are immeasurable.
- Use existing property features and vegetation to provide shelter
- Erect birdhouses and nesting places for other wildlife
- Create feeding stations to help sustain wildlife
- Establish a water feature in the garden
- Plant fruit and nut bearing trees and shrubs
- Plant a flower garden for insects and hummingbirds
- Maintain a peaceful and chemical-free environment