How to Create a Sustainable Wildlife Garden in Your Backyard in 4 Easy Steps

Categorized | Gardening, Lifestyle, Nature

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Sustainable Wildlife Garden
Wildlife gardens in your very own backyard can help our delicate ecosystems in our neighborhoods by providing food, water, and safe places for our native wildlife. Read on to learn how you can incorporate new ideas into your backyard to make it a haven for the local wildlife and create a beautiful and sustainable garden.

1. Provide Food Sources

With the urbanization of most areas, cities in particular are not providing natural food sources that are readily available to local wildlife. Everyone needs to eat and by including native plants or hanging feeders in safe places in your own backyard you’ll help many wildlife species thrive. By planting local foliage and plants you’ll have the added benefit of less maintenance and water than other species because native plants grow easier. This will add to your local ecosystem as well.

*Try to include three of the following types of plants or supplemental feeders:

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2. Have Clean Water Sources

Lily Antique Copper Bird BathThe easiest water source to add to any backyard garden is a bird bath. Simple and easy to add, it’s a wonderful start. You’ll want to change the water every 2 to 3 days in the summertime to avoid mosquitoes breeding and add a heater in the winter if you live in a climate with cold winters. Keep your bird bath at least 10 feet from dense shrubbery or predators will have a good hiding spot to capture their prey.

*Try to include one of the following water sources:

  • Birdbath
  • Lake
  • Stream
  • Seasonal Pool
  • Ocean
  • Water Garden/Pond
  • River
  • Butterfly Puddling Area
  • Rain Garden
  • Spring

3. Provide Cover for Local Wildlife to Feel Safe and Secure

Looker Triple Chamber Bat HouseWildlife needs to feel safe and prefer to hide from people, predators, and bad weather. By offering native vegetation such as shrubs, thicket and brush piles you’re providing a safe haven. Bushy leaves and thorns are sure to help keep predators at bay while dead trees can work for others. If you’re trying to attract local birds you might invest in a birdhouse. Other great wildlife to invite to your backyard that help with pollinating include butterflies, bats and bees. Ponds provide cover for aquatic wildlife, such as fish and amphibians. A “toad abode” can be constructed to provide shelter for amphibians on land.

*Try to include two of the following places for local wildlife to find shelter from predators and the weather:

  • Wooded Area
  • Bramble Patch
  • Ground Cover
  • Rock Pile or Wall
  • Cave
  • Roosting Box
  • Dense Shrubs or Thicket
  • Evergreens
  • Brush or Log Pile
  • Burrow
  • Meadow or Prairie
  • Water Garden or Pond

4. Arrange for a Place Local Wildlife Can Raise Their Young

Wildlife needs to have a safe place where they are able to reproduce, then bear and raise their young into adulthood. Surviving depends on a place that is going to protect them from bad weather, human intervention and predators. Think about your local wildlife you would like to have in your backyard, and then about their life cycle; tadpole to frog or caterpillar to butterfly. Build your shelter for the entire life cycle. Many habitats will serve as cover and a place to raise their young: from wildflower patches where butterflies and moths lay their eggs and small mammals burrow into the undergrowth, to constructed birdhouses, ponds for amphibians and fish, or caves where bats roost and form colonies.

*Try to include two of the following places for wildlife to engage in courtship behavior, mate, and then bear and raise their young:

  • Mature Trees
  • Meadow or Prairie
  • Nesting Box
  • Wetland
  • Cave
  • Host Plants for Caterpillars
  • Dead Trees or Snags
  • Dense Shrubs or a Thicket
  • Water Garden or Pond
  • Burrow

5. Sustainable Gardening

To help you conserve and protect our natural resources, you’ll want to adopt sustainable gardening practices on your backyard wildlife habitat. What we do can either have a positive or negative effect on the health of our planet. The health of your soil, air, water and vegetation in your backyard can be healthier with a more sustainable gardening approach.

*Try to include two of the following ways you can manage your backyard habitat in a sustainable and Earth friendly way:

Pop-Up Rain Barrel - Available at Amazon!Soil and Water Conservation:

  • Riparian Buffer
  • Capture Rain Water from Roof
  • Xeriscape (water-wise landscaping – Great if you are in a drier climate!)
  • Drip or Soaker Hose for Irrigation
  • Limit Water Use
  • Reduce Erosion (ex: ground cover, terraces)
  • Use Mulch (Keep water in the soil instead of it evaporating into the air.)
  • Rain Garden

Controlling Exotic Species:

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  • Practice Integrated Pest Management
  • Remove Non-Native Plants and Animals
  • Use Native Plants
  • Reduce Lawn Areas (Grass is made of plants that most animals do not consume so they do not provide a lot of value for wildlife.)

Organic Practices:

  • Eliminate Chemical Pesticides
  • Eliminate Chemical Fertilizers
  • Compost

Now that you have a beautiful and sustainable wildlife habitat in your backyard you have the opportunity to certify it through the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program. *By providing food, water, cover and places for wildlife to raise their young – as well as incorporating sustainable gardening practices, your garden can join the more than 125,000 Certified Wildlife Habitats™ across the country.

Want more? Check these articles out from the archives:

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Naturally Earth Friendly was born out of a love for everything healthy and good for our bodies and planet. This includes tips to adjust our everyday lives, environmentally conscious efforts we can make and smarter natural products that help make a difference. It's possible to head towards a more sustainable future and we can do it together.

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