Inviting wildlife into your yard can create an urban oasis for birds, foxes, raccoons, and sometimes even deer. A yard landscaped for wildlife also provides sufficient food and cover for the friendly pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. The following guide will help you create a refuge for the neighborhood wildlife.
Water is the single most important factor. A dry yard isn't inviting to animals, birds, or insects. There are several ways that you can add water to your landscape design:
Install a small decorative pond. Shady areas are a good option, because algae won't grow easily in the shade but pond plants will thrive. You will need a filter constantly running to keep the water clean and to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in the pond.
Add a fountain to the yard. These come in a large variety of sizes and styles, so you are sure to find something for your space. Mosquitoes also aren't a problem in most fountains since the water is constantly moving and circulating.
Place a few birdbaths around the yard. These will require emptying and refilling at least once daily to make sure the water is clean and to prevent mosquito eggs from hatching.
Food is a major attractant to wildlife. When choosing food, determine what types of wildlife you want to attract. Plants that produce berries are a good option because they attract both birds and mammals. Seed producing flowers, such as coneflowers and sunflowers, are a very strong attractant for many birds. Fragrant flowers attract your insect pollinators.
Birdfeeders can provide a year-round food source. Nectar feeders are another option, which attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
While food and water invite wildlife to visit, providing shelter provides an invitation to them to stay. Dense, low-growing foliage plants provide shelter to animals and birds that nest or feed on the ground. Medium and tall growing plants are also needed for those that nest higher or that need a safe place to retreat to, such as when the neighborhood cat is on the prowl.
You can also provide nesting boxes for birds and beneficial insects, such as mason bees. These serve a purpose and they are an attractive part of the landscape. Having a decorative piece of deadwood on the property, such as a stump or short piece of standing deadwood, will also provide nesting options for small wildlife, birds, and insects.
For more help, contact a landscape designer in your area.