Improving the appearance of your home with landscaping can add value as well as beauty. But good landscaping can also have another positive aspect. With just a little effort, you can turn your backyard into a wildlife habitat.
While you may not object to sharing your garden with a bird or two, you’re not very likely to bring in a backhoe and rip up your yard to put in an environmentally correct wildlife refuge. However, it doesn’t take much to get your sanctuary started.
If your landscape plan calls for trees and bushes to give you privacy, choose those that will attract birds and butterflies. A small shrub or tree planted today may provide cover or even a nest site for birds. If the tree has berries, it can be a source of food later in the summer or even next winter. Fruit bearing trees such as the Mountain Ash, Autumn Olive, and Chinese Dogwood attract all kinds of songbirds. Over 100 different birds eat the Amelanchier or Shad Blossom.
Backyard habitats don’t happen over night, but the actions you take today can have an impact on what happens in your backyard tomorrow, literally. A blooming Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)or a colorful flowerbeds of annuals planted today will bring butterflies tomorrow. A simple change in mowing patterns can change a portion of your backyard into a meadow providing food for insect eating birds in just a few short weeks.
Some birds and butterflies that come to your backyard sanctuary will be temporary visitors stopping only to feed and rest as they journey on. Others will welcome the opportunity to breed and spend the warmer months in your garden.
Why not develop the open space around your home into a habitat suitable for wildlife? You will find it is mutually beneficial. Birds, butterflies, and other creatures find a home and you and your family will get to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature–right in your own backyard!
What About Gardening?
Ah, to be out in the garden once again! The sun on my face. The smell of the earth. I can almost hear everything coming back to life.
What do I do first? Cleanup! But even this laborious job seems OK somehow. It’s such a pleasure just to be outside in the warm air. I walk the entire yard picking up fallen branches and tree limbs, or anything else that might damage my newly sharpened lawnmower blade, Then I move on to raking — all the leaves and other debris from under shrubs and bushes, left over from the fall. In fact, raking the entire lawn is a great idea, to wake it up and let all those new shoots get closer to the fresh air and sunshine.
After all that, I reward myself by taking a long close look at all the new spring bulbs I planted last fall. There always seems to be a few surprises when I start poking around. I don’t remember planting those! Not to forget to welcome back the hardy survivors from previous years. It’s impossible to miss the patches of brilliant color from the daffodils, tulips, crocus, and hyacinths. There’s still such a contrast with the drab grays and browns of winter. I also check out my old favorite perennials that already have new green shoots appearing. I uncover the roses, taking off the protective wire and removing the leaves that I packed around them just after the ground froze. I can’t help but marvel at how some plants still have green leaves despite being buried repeatedly under snow. Everything seems to be bursting out of the ground with new life. With trowel in hand, I declare — let the gardening begin!