Landscaping for Wildlife: An Overview
With this article I am starting an ongoing series on backyard wildlife for ITGO. The first few articles will give the basics of landscaping for wildlife, and as time goes on I will add more articles that deal with specific issues, animals, or problems.
There are two good rules to know before you even consider starting to garden for wildlife, and these two are unbreakable if you want any success. The first is to greatly, greatly cut back on the amount of chemical pesticides and herbicides you use in your landscape. Any of you who look at ITGO regularly know that I would prefer that you omit them entirely. The second, especially if you want to attract birds, is that your kitty-cats must stay indoors (This is better for the cats anyway. I've lost too many cats to cars to ever let my cats outdoors again.) So there they are. They're not so bad, and many of you may be doing these things already anyway.
I also want to clarify something up front. This is not an all-or-nothing proposition. You will read articles or books that certainly make it seem so, but that is not where I'm coming from. You can have a lawn! Please don't think that I'm going to tell you to get rid of your grass, grow only native plants, and let your property become an overgrown tangle in the name of wildlife. Yes, most wildlife love those conditions, but most of our neighbors wouldn't appreciate it very much, would they? My mission here is to make small pockets all throughout the state of Michigan where wildlife can eat, drink, rest, and maybe even raise their young. As development increases, and wildlife of all kinds lose their natural homes, it becomes more and more important for homeowners to try to give wildlife a bit of a safe haven in the middle of it all. Maybe your part will be making one corner of your yard a dedicated butterfly garden to attract monarchs. Maybe you will decide that what you really want is to hear birds singing throughout the day, and so your part will be to set out a buffet for our feathered friends. Maybe you just want something, anything, that is a bit wild, a bit more natural than our paved subdivisions. Whatever you want, I can help get you on the path. It would be a good idea to start thinking now about your goals in landscaping for wildlife. The next three articles in the series will get you on your way, and later on, hopefully one of the more in depth articles will be exactly what you need.
The next three parts of the series will cover the basics: food, water, and shelter/places to raise young. I'll write and post those over the next three months. I also have several other articles in the works, including:
- Butterfly gardens
- Specific backyard bird profiles, including birdhouse/nesting box plans to attract those birds
- Squirrels and how to deal with them
- A closer look at monarch butterflies
- A checklist of common southeast Michigan backyard birds
I love looking out my back window and seeing that my yard is as much a haven for local wildlife as it is for me, and I am really looking forward to working on this series of articles. I hope you will enjoy reading it, and I hope you will let me know if there is a topic you would like me to write about. Keep checking back for updates on the Landscaping for Wildlife series. Even if you do a few of the things in the articles, local wildlife will thank you. ITGO