Wildlife in the Garden
Gardens exist not just for the benefit of the people who enjoy them but for all of the wildlife in the ecosystem. We plant flowers and plants to attract bees, songbirds, butterflies and hummingbirds, but bats, squirrels and frogs also benefit from them. Unfortunately, along with these kinds of wildlife also come the raccoons, opossums, skunks, rabbits and deer.
In order to attract wildlife to the garden, you'll need to meet their three basic needs: cover, water and food.
Cover provides refuge from predators and the weather as well as a safe place to raise young. Different animals and insects need different kinds of cover. A simple pile of leaves or sticks tucked into a corner, hollow logs and densely canopied trees and shrubs can all provide cover. You could also leave a patch of long grass or leave perennials uncut over the winter for shelter.
Wildlife needs a source of water for both drinking and bathing. Frogs need it for breeding, while bats and birds need it for attracting insects to eat. Adding a shallow pond or bird bath will help to meet their needs.
If you provide a diverse selection of food for wildlife, you'll attract more to your garden. Different kinds of foods are consumed by wildlife throughout the year. For example, birds that normally eat seeds and berries all year long will switch to eating insects while raising their young. Food supplements like bird seed can be provided at times of the year when natural nutrition sources are limited or not available.
It's important to remember that you can help to support the wildlife around you with any size garden. You don't need several acres of land to support most of the kinds of animals and insects you'd like to see in your garden. A simple potted plant on a balcony can feed butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. In the garden, try to create a mix of open grassy areas, gardens and taller trees to provide plenty of shelter and feeding opportunities for wildlife.
Plants play a huge roll in providing pollen, nectar and seeds for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, songbirds and insects. Links to more information are provided below.
Article and plant list
Attracting Birds to Your Garden
A list of birds and the plants they love.
Shrubs to Attract Birds Article
Article and plant list
Bees & Pollinators
Four kinds of plants deer tend to avoid
More articles about wildlife in your garden.