A wildlife garden is a growing space designed to attract a variety of animal habitats to minimize the need for maintenance and human intervention. Because wildlife gardening promotes biodiversity and aids natural pest control, many organic farmers incorporate these techniques to larger plots of agricultural land.
According to entomologist Douglas Tallamy from the University of Delaware, humans have taken over 95% of the original native habitat in the contiguous United States, and new development continues to consume 2 million acres of wildlife habitats each year. Wildlife gardens allow people to share their landscapes with valuable plant and animal life that are native to the region and benefit the overall environment.
How to Create a Wildlife Garden
- Determine the priority wildlife species in your region
- Plant a diverse selection of native plants to supply the food for the wildlife
- Provide ample water for the wildlife to drink, bathe, and cool off in (except California)
- Plant trees, shrubs, grasses to provide warm and safe shelter for the wildlife
- Secure safe places for wildlife to raise young in your space
Benefits of Wildlife Gardening
One of the main purposes of wildlife gardening is to restore balance to the ecosystem by inviting native animals to reclaim lands they once called home. The practice promotes biodiversity and serves as an effective means of biological pest control, which benefits the overall environment for both farming and gardening. Many organic farmers subscribe to wildlife gardening philosophies and incorporate some of the basic practices into their organically farmed land. Wildlife gardens don’t utilize chemicals, because pesticides harm beneficial plants and wildlife as well as pesky weeds and bugs.
Types of Wildlife Gardening Habitats
- Wildflowers to attract beneficial insects
- Ponds to attract birds, frogs, and toads
- Piles of logs to provide shelter for insects and worms
- Nest areas for birds, bats, and bees
- Open space with grasses and annual plants
- Shade trees for cooling and protection
Best Plants for Wildlife Gardening
Some of the best plants that you can put in a wildlife garden are colorful flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Not only do these animals bring beauty to your garden, but they also spread nectar and promote pollination. Always start your garden by planting species that are native to your area. Not only will these types of plants be easier to grow, but they’ll also attract native species. Birdbaths, water barrels, and small ponds help attract wildlife to your garden as well.
You can actually get your backyard or garden certified by the National Wildlife Federation if it meets the qualifications for a proper wildlife habitat. Your habitat can be certified if you have a large farm, a schoolyard, or even an apartment balcony! To learn more about building your own wildlife garden, check out the articles posted on the following websites: National Wildlife Federation, Native Plants and and Wildlife Gardens, Landscape for Life, and Discover Wildlife.
Or if you are not into home-gardening, as an alternative you can put on a tank, grab your camera and go searching for Grunts hiding under coral formations.