I ran across an informative article in the North Shore News. It was written by Todd Major, a journeyman horticulturist and chief horticulture instructor at the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden. If you need advice on creating a wildlife-friendly yard, he’s the one for you to contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Major has bears, coons, squirrels, a skunk, the odd owl that flies through and a variety of birds that come to visit him. Although Spring time is usually the busiest season, fall is highly more important for wildlife in the garden because they need food to fatten-up and survive the lean winter months. Major is constantly asked how to build and design the garden to attract and support wildlife. He offers a rational, common-sense approach to creating wildlife-friendly spaces in your yard. He recommends you follow several key concepts. In simple terms, animals need the same things we do to survive: a variety of healthy food sources, fresh water, a safe place to live and most importantly, acceptance. It seems strange to me that when people talk of having wildlife in the garden, they are willing to have birds visit but not insects, or squirrels but not raccoons, or deer but not bears. Having wildlife in the garden is not some type of buffet-service, you don't get to choose who visits and who doesn't.
Here are 5 key concepts to apply, that Todd Major says will attract wildlife and transform your yard into a wildlife-friendly place:
(1) Provide food in many forms: Plant a wide variety of flowering plants with nectar for insects to feed on, which will attract birds to feed on the insects. Grow trees with a variety of seeds and fruits to attract birds and squirrels, which will attract higher life forms to feed on the birds and squirrels. Protect and enhance the community of soil life to attract birds, snakes and frogs to feed on soil insects.
(2) Plant in layers: Planting a layered and diverse canopy structure will attract a diverse array of wildlife. Tall trees under-planted with smaller trees, and large shrubs under-planted with small shrubs, and perennials under-planted with groundcovers and bulbs, will provide a diverse canopy structure that offers varied living spaces for life. By contrast, a lawn with a few shrubs provides home for a very limited array of life and those monoculture plantings load the dinner plate for pests.
(3) Is there anything to drink? Water is a primary element needed to sustain all life and without some form of fresh clean water, few animals will visit or stay in the garden. Use deep-sided ponds, large oak barrels, deep-dish bird baths or any other manner of built water feature that provides reasonably clean water to allow insects and animals to get a drink.
(4) Where do I sleep? If you want wildlife to visit then make them a bed to sleep in. Birds need undisturbed dense areas in trees and shrubs to nest in. Larger animals like raccoons and chipmunks need large branched trees to rest and sleep in. Insects and small animals like frogs, salamanders and snakes need dense cover such as wood piles, rock piles, rotting logs or thick leaf litter mulch to hibernate in during the winter months. An immaculately clean garden with nothing to eat and no place to live attracts nothing but slugs.
(5) Is that going to hurt me? Fertilizers, pesticides and bug zappers cause harm to many forms of life. Do no harm, cause no harm and use no harmful product in the garden if you want to attract wildlife. As I always tell my students: Don't you know? If not, then learn. Don't you care? Maybe you should.
Lastly, show some tolerance, respect and spirituality for life in its many forms and enjoy those priceless and thrilling moments of wildlife viewing in the garden.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S believes urban sprawl can be offset by creating wildlife-friendly spaces in America's 25,000,000+ acres lawns, one yard at a time! Click HERE to learn why. A portion of Ad revenues (10%) will be donated to Monarch Watch, earmarked for their Monarch Waystation program. Do you have a wildlife-friendly space? Please share it by Contacting Us!