Some people want their yards to be wildlife sanctuaries while others would just as soon have wildlife visit your house rather than theirs. Still others enjoy watching wildlife at a distance. You can enjoy wildlife on your terms, more or less, just by designing your landscape to manage birds and critters. Make your wildlife desires known to your landscape designer right from the start and he/she can select plants to meet your wildlife management criteria.
If you want wildlife to browse nearby, where you can watch them, there are many plants that will attract various creatures right up to your window if you want. Garden stores sell bird feeders that will attract a variety of birds or others that will only attract visits from the species for which it was designed.
If you don’t want wildlife at all, there are certain plants that animals will not come near. The list is much shorter than the list of plants that attract animals. Be aware, though, that different animals have different tastes. For example, deer may not be interested in certain plants but rodents may feast on those plants. That’s why, if you want to be most sure of meeting your wildlife management objectives, you should consider retaining a landscape design professional, rather than trying to do it yourself.
What about the person who likes animals, but would prefer to like them from a distance? Why would anyone like to admire wildlife from afar, you ask? They might like to watch birds frolic and feed, but don’t like cleaning up what they leave behind. Some may want to attract hummingbirds or butterflies, but bees feed on the same plant nectar and someone in the family might be allergic to bee stings.
The answer to these concerns is usually to place the plants that attract the wildlife that you want to keep at a distance…at a distance. If someone in the family is allergic to bees, plant butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii) at a sufficient distance that fewer bees come near your living space. This is not all that cut and dried, however. If you have a party and eat cake and ice cream on the patio, you will surely have some uninvited guests. But, attracting unwanted guests in this manner is expected, even if you don’t have any plants nearby.
At one extreme, people plant their landscapes to encourage all wildlife and don’t worry about the consequences to their plant materials. At the other extreme are those who will do anything to keep their gardens pristine and free of wildlife. Most of us, however, practice wildlife management so that we, our plants and the animal visitors can co-exist. Sometimes even peacefully.