Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Plant a Backyard Wildlife Garden

Plant a Backyard Wildlife Garden

With spring setting in, thoughts turn to gardening and the return of wildlife, like birds, bees and butterflies. Here are four tips for keeping those colorful critters coming to your backyard.

By Carol Thompson

With the rapid suburbanization of the American landscape that has taken place since World War II (including the recent spurt during the housing bubble) thousands of square miles of open land, farms and forests was built on, displacing wildlife. No matter if you live in the country, suburbs or even the city, you can provide food, shelter and a nontoxic environment for wildlife, restoring some of the lost landscape. It's not only good for the environment, by supporting a healthy and diverse local ecosystem, but by following a few of these tips, you could watch all the wildlife you want right in your backyard!
Plant native plants.
Native plants will attract and provide food for native animals. Make sure your plants provide a mixture of flowers, nuts, berries, seeds, pollen and nectar for all the different kinds of animals that will be stopping by.
Provide water.
Try putting it in a birdbath, or even go so far as building a pond. Animals need clean water to drink and bathe, so make sure you change the water frequently.
Let it grow.
A little overgrowth will provide cover for animals, giving them the ability to hide and feel more comfortable. The availability of brush, grass clippings and sticks provides the raw materials for birds to build nests.
Avoid chemicals.
Avoid using chemical fertilizers to beef up your garden. Instead, try to make the area as natural as possible by composting, letting wild grasses grow and removing invasive species.
If you're really interested in making a habitat out of your backyard, check out the National Wildlife Federation's Certified Wildlife Habitat Program, or the Audubon At Home tips. The Daily Green also has, in partnership with the National Audubon Society, published these 15 tips for creating a backyard bird garden.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!