You’ve moved into the new house and all of the boxes are unpacked (ok, maybe MOST of the boxes). You sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee on the back patio and think, “Hmmm, this really needs a water feature. It also needs flowers and butterflies. Where are all the birds?” With all of the commotion, it’s probably safe to say that your wildlife has found someplace else to inhabit for now. So, let’s talk about inviting wildlife into your backyard.
The very best way to bring wildlife into your yard is to give them someplace to land and someplace to hide. Shrubs, whether they are wispy or structured, are a great way to welcome birds, toads, rabbits, and other animals into your backyard. Provide various heights and shapes for them. Rabbits prefer tightly woven branches that are low to the ground. Birds prefer dense tall bushes or trees for nest building and hiding. Toads prefer a green ground cover. Although they will dwell in mulch, they much prefer a thicker green ground cover with some shade shrubs for hiding. Squirrels like the taller trees, preferably something that bears nuts or seeds.
The next thing to consider is a food source for your various animals. Toads will thrive on insects within and around the shrubs. Just be certain that you aren’t spraying insecticide around them or you will poison your toads too. Birds can be fed using bird feeders, feeding socks, or even pine cones dipped in peanut butter and rolled in birdseed. Giving them shrubs that have berries during the winter time will guarantee that they will stick around all year long. Hummingbirds also like to be fed, so make sure to set up a feeder for them too. Rabbits like cabbages and lettuces, and you can plant those amongst your shrubs. These can be used for your family too, and the rabbit scat makes a great fertilizer. Squirrels enjoy peanuts, but they will also steal from your bird feeders if you let them. Plant flowers that are known in your area to attract butterflies. You can contact your local agriculture extension office for a list of flowers and insects in your area.
A water feature is one of the most peaceful, as well as the most useful piece to add to your yard for wildlife. A shallow plate with rocks in it will help the butterflies get a drink without drowning. Bird baths are wonderful, but you must be careful to clean them out every so often, as they tend to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. A pond water feature helps keep the ground moist for toads, and an occasional bird who finds a way to sip without falling in. Rabbits will also figure out how to drink from your pond, but they also like small flat dishes filled with water. If these are placed in the mulch and you put rocks or marbles in them, you will attract butterflies as well.
Wildlife has the exact same necessities that we do. Feed us, Water us, Keep us safe. So as you plan out the landscaping in your yard, think about how to attract those cardinals, toads, and the occasional kooky squirrel who will provide hours of entertainment for you and your family.