Your backyard is your sanctuary, but why not make it a sanctuary for native birds, insects and other local wildlife, too? You can attract some amazing creatures and have a beautiful yard at the same time when you design your backyard to attract wildlife. This is habitat gardening.
The goal of habitat gardening is to create a landscape that will attract and support native bees, birds, butterflies, rabbits, lizards, or other wildlife. You do this by making resources available to fauna that need it. This increases their chances of survival, and your chances of enchanting interactions with them! It’s not complicated, however it requires a bit of patience and work to set up your yard appropriately.
There are 5 key things that all Wildlife Habitat Gardens fulfill:
- Provide food. This means growing berries, grasses, or other native plants that animals eat. You can also provide feeders that you fill with bird food, fruit, or whatever your wildlife needs.
- Supply water. Animals need water for drinking, bathing, and sometimes breeding also. A pond, fountain, bird bath, or other water access point is needed.
- Include Hiding Places. Animals need cover from bad weather, places to hide from predators, shade to avoid midday heat, and even dark places to hunt.
- Provide Places to Raise Young. Animals need safe places to raise their young, where they can count on being undisturbed. Above all, they need reliable access to the resources above.
- They Are Sustainable. A wildlife habitat must use sustainable practices, not using pesticides or dangerous fertilizers. The soil, air, and water must be clean and healthy.
Creating a habitat garden is an enriching exercise for families looking to teach children about nature and wildlife. Or it can be a fun project for anyone who would like something that’s non-traditional for their backyard! Amateur photographers, aspiring veterinarians, and many others can richly enjoy this practise.
If your yard successfully fulfills the 5 needs of a Wildlife Habitat, you can actually be awarded a National Wildlife Federation wildlife habitat certificate! This designates your yard as a certified habitat garden!