Getting Started

A backyard habitat is the manipulation of your yard into a garden that provides essential resources for different kinds of wildlife, such as birds, butterflies, small mammals and other creatures. This could entail something as simple as planting a few host plants for butterflies or as elaborate as creating a place that provides food, water, summer shade, winter refuge, perches, nesting sites, and hiding places for all kinds of wildlife. This ecologically-minded kind of gardening is especially critical in areas of excessive or urban development. Creating a Backyard Habitat is a great way for you and your family to enjoy observing nature and wildlife every day in your own backyard. Whether you have an apartment balcony or a 20-acre farm, you can create a garden that attracts beautiful wildlife and helps restore habitat in commercial and residential areas. By providing food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young.

Here are a few tips to get you started toward building and developing a backyard habitat of your own.

Get rid of invasive plants. Invasive weeds can end up choking the life out of your native plants. First thing to do is clear them out and make some room for your local plant life. To find out more about which weeds are invasive go to plants.usda.gov.

Plant more natives. To find out what plants are native to your area check out YARDMAP. A web-based tool from Cornell's Lab of Ornithology that allows you to map out your backyard with live satellite images as well as tips and plants to attract certain birds.

Reduce pesticide use. Instead opt for more natural ways of repelling bugs with plant pairing and home remedies.

Provide wildlife with the their 4 basic needs. Wildlife only need four things to make them stay in your backyard. A source of food, planting native forbs, shrubs and trees is the easiest way to provide the foliage, nectar, pollen, berries, seeds and nuts that many species of wildlife feast on. You can also supplement your plants with hand-made feeders. A source of clean water is also important. Water is not just for drinking, it is also important in bathing and reproduction. Wildlife needs a place to take cover from predators, weather, and you. Things such as shrubs, tall decorative grass, and even dead trees give them a place to stay. Finally, they need a place to raise their young. Places for cover can double as place for young ones.

After that there is not much else to do but build upon and cater to specific species.

( Image: GardeningGoneWild )

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03.20.13  12:00PM    KAREN B

Categories: backyard habitat,gardening

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