Attracting Wildlife to Your Backyard


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Attracting Wildlife to Your Backyard

Native plants are usually very reliable – they have adapted to the climatic conditions of the area and serve a variety of functions within the ecosystem. More important they are proven performers – hardy, fitting into a wide variety of habitats, valuable to wildlife, useful for stabilizing stream-banks and/or controlling soil erosion.

Native plants are also useful if you are reducing the size of your lawn. Naturalizing areas around your home will lead to lower maintenance costs, pesticide reduction and improved biodiversity in the area. Planting rare species of native trees and shrubs on your property can have far reaching impacts, since birds, small mammals or the wind can transport seeds to nearby woodlands.

Many native plants are also excellent choices as specimen plants in more formal landscapes. Look at the beauty of plants all year long, not just for showy blooms. Since most plants in this climate are leafless for more than six months a year, textured bark, colorful twigs, exotic structure and fruit that hangs on over the winter will greatly add to the attractiveness of a landscape. We offer the following planting maps as we would seeds from our nursery – they will grow differently in every area. Feel free to make the actual plantings larger, change plants, add different plants in the years to come. Or throw the plans away and come up with something totally different. Please make use of our other publications (listed on back cover) to help you choose the proper plants for your site. When planning your plantings, keep the following in mind:

  • Variety will increase the number of wildlife species that find your yard attractive. A mixture of tall trees and low to medium shrubs provides a diversity of heights that improves the value of your yard as wildlife habitat.
  • In addition to a variety of species and heights, provide: a diversity in flowering and fruiting times (early blossoms for pollinators, fruit that stays on into winter for year-round residents); food production (seeds, nuts, fruit, twigs and buds); nesting sites (tall conifers and young hardwoods); and protection (dense conifers for shelter and hawthorns to escape predators).
  • Aim for a variety of appropriate species – plants that like to grow in full sun generally do poorly in dense shade, and plants that can’t take excessive water will drown in a low spot.
  • If you plan a large planting, a walking path will allow access through the area.
  • Supplemental feeding and watering can attract large numbers of birds to your property, especially during the winter months.
  • Large trees in nearby forests or on your property are valuable assets to wildlife habitat, whether dead or alive. Leave them standing as long as they pose no danger to people or property.They will attract cavity-nesting birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers and nuthatches.
  • Native plants respond to pruning and tender care just as much as introduced garden varieties. It depends on the look you want and how much time you invest in your landscaping.

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