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Attracting Wildlife….Or Not

Wildlife, birds and pollinators should all be considered when planning a new landscape or changes to your present landscape. Do you want to attract wildlife? Would you prefer that the furry creatures not visit but birds are welcome? Surely you want pollinators, unless you or someone in your family is allergic to bees. 

The wild guests you’ll welcome will influence the plant material you specify. All wildlife need food, water, shelter and a place to bear and raise their young. If you want to attract mammals, investigate what mammals live in your area and specify the plants they like to eat. Keep in mind that wild animals have a mind of their own, as evidenced by the damage that’s done to woody plants every winter by deer and rodents. Remember, too, that they can bite and scratch if you try to be too friendly, and some carry diseases like rabies. 

Perhaps it would be wiser to keep them close enough that you can enjoy their antics but far enough from your living area that they’re less apt to do any damage. Then plant their food sources near the edge of your property. Research what kind of shelter they need and put that further out, too. A water feature in your outback would provide them with their hydration needs. If you don’t want to attract wildlife, discourage them by not providing any of their necessities.

Birds have the same four basic needs as mammals. Getting birds to visit is as easy as providing for those needs. Putting out bird feeders is sure to bring them to your yard. Before you buy bird seed, make a list of the birds that visit your yard so you can buy a seed mix they like. Be sure to buy, or build, bird feeders that are difficult for squirrels to access. They’ll scare the birds away and make a mess of the seed. To provide water for birds to drink and bathe in only requires a birdbath that can be purchased at any garden or home center.

Most birds are very particular about their shelter. Robins will nest almost anywhere – in trees, in birdhouses, in the eaves of your house. Wrens like birdhouses. They are the birds that settle into homemade birdhouses the most. When making birdhouses, be sure the entry hole is the right size for the bird you want to attract. If it’s too big, a lazy bird you don’t want may take over the house. 

Bluebirds will use birdhouses for winter shelter, as well as a nesting shelter to raise their young. Cardinals also like birdhouses but they and blue jays will also roost in thick evergreens. If you have a mosquito problem, you may want to attract purple martins. These birds like to live in special apartment houses, which are sold at specialty bird supply stores and online. The employees at a specialty bird store can give you advice on attracting the various birds that call your area home.

Attracting pollinators is all the rage these days because the bee population is dying off and monarch butterflies are in decline. If you have annuals or perennials with bright colored flowers then you’ll attract pollinators. If bees visit your yard, you don’t have to worry about providing shelter. Their apiary may be miles away but they’ll find their way home. Hummingbirds, also good pollinators, roost in their nests or in tree branches, often sleeping upside down.

Butterflies need the most help. The adults suck nectar from flowers, and in the process pick up pollen on their feet. They deposit the pollen on another flower when they stop for another drink. However, one of the best things you can do to attract butterflies is to plant food for their young. Monarchs, for example, will only lay their eggs on milkweed plants because their caterpillars will only eat milkweed leaves. Milkweeds aren’t the most attractive plant so you might want to plant them in a less prominent place in your yard. The butterflies will find them.

You can help these beautiful workers by investing in a butterfly house, also known as a butterfly box, and a puddler, which is a shallow vessel butterflies use to drink and bathe from. You can find these online or at specialty bird stores. The staff at the bird store can also provide you with information on what species live in your area and their caterpillars’ food needs.

If you want to attract wildlife, birds and/or pollinators without doing the necessary work and research, our landscape designers are fauna experts as well as flora experts. All you have to do is share your desires with them and they will take it from there.

One comment on “Attracting Wildlife….Or Not

  1. This pollinator gardening fad is annoying. People really believe that they are ‘helping’ the ecosystem while they are really depriving the ecosystem beyond their garden of pollinators. In the picture, it is harmless. If they enjoy it, that is fine. However, there are a few species, such as California poppies, that could benefit from some of the distracted pollinators.

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