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A Blue View: 10 Ways to Garden for Wildlife

Thinking of giving your backyard a new look? Go wild—literally! 

Published May 26, 2015

With the right gardening strategies, you can create your own certified wildlife habitat around your home or somewhere in your community.

While beautifying your space, you’ll also be supporting the local ecosystem and attracting wildlife like butterflies and birds. 


Here are a few tips to get you started. To learn more about the certification process, click here!

1. Use native plants.

Native plants not only attract local wildlife, such as hummingbirds and butterflies, but also make it easy on the gardener; since they’re indigenous, they require less maintenance. Learn more about native plants in your area here. 

2. Mulch your garden. 

Mulch—such as newspaper, leaves, bark or wood chips—can retain soil moisture, improve soil quality and conserve water. 

3. Time it!

Use a timing device with any watering system to avoid wasting water. 

4. Reuse the rain.

Set up a rain barrel to capture the rainfall from your roof, and use the collected water to irrigate your garden. 

5. Buy a birdbath.

Provide water year-round for local birds with a birdbath—just make sure to change the water every two to three days in warm weather to prevent mosquito larvae from hatching.

6. Nix the insecticides.

Insects might not be your favorite part of the outdoor experience, but they’re the primary source of food for many bird species. 

7. Get colorful.

Butterflies are attracted to red, yellow, orange, pink and purple blossoms that are flat-topped or clustered and have short flower tubes. 

8. Don’t ditch dead trees.

It’s true. Dead wood = good. Snags (i.e., dead trees that are left upright to decompose naturally) and logs (i.e., a snag that’s fallen to the ground) provide a home for animals like birds, bats, squirrels and raccoons. The mosses, lichens and fungi that grow on snags also help return vital nutrients to the soil through the nitrogen cycle.

9. Be smart about fertilizer.

If you’re going to fertilize, choose a plant-specific organic fertilizer that won’t negatively impact the environment. Consider composting your food waste to make your own nutrient-rich soil supplement. 

10. Shrub it up.

Add some shrubs, wildflower gardens, rock walls and evergreens to your wildlife habitat to provide cover for animals!

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