Making your garden a small haven for wildlife can be rewarding, but you will have to walk a thin line between the friends and foes, as there are many kinds of pests that would also inhabit your garden, and in fact, is something that cannot be avoided totally. For animal lovers though, nothing could be more satisfying! Think about it – birds, bees, ladybugs, hedgehogs, rabbits, butterflies, moths, frogs, skinks, squirrels, and even badgers or deer might just stop by and even call your garden, home. If wildlife have 2 important things, food, and shelter, they will come.
Clever use of hedges and wall climbers will provide a nice habitat for insects, and small birds to take shelter in. A small pond with logs and rocks around the bank works great in attracting moisture loving fauna, like frogs, toads, skinks, and dragonflies. Mature trees are definitely the best micro habitats for most types of garden fauna.
Bees are one of the most welcoming sights to any gardener. They play such an important role in helping plants to cross pollinate. Over the past few years, reports surfaced that bees were declining for some yet unknown reason. Some attribute this to something called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD); the fact is they have declined a great deal. So, bees need all the help they can get. One of the ways to help the bees is to make your garden as bee friendly as possible. Basically, most flowery plants attract bees, like buttercups, ivy, roses, sunflowers, geraniums, snowdrops, and clovers. Another plant that seems to attract bees is the common dandelion.
Birds can be attracted by the use of specialized bird feeders and birdbaths. Place the bird feeders and birdbaths in safe spots away from marauding cats. Berry bushes and figs which routinely set fruit are like magnets for birds, so plant them if you want to have a lot of birds around. A bird that can be a nuisance though, is the crow. Some birds will prey on your choice fruits and seedlings, so enclose your fruit trees with wire meshing to keep them out.
Remember that creating a more wildlife friendly garden means facilitating ecological cycles that will run on its own quite smoothly, if only nature is given a helping hand. For example, by encouraging insects to breed in your garden, it will attract the birds, which in turn, will keep the numbers of the insects in check. Many species of insects in turn prey on the small plant pests, like aphids for example.
A more ambitious plan if you have a large garden is to create wildlife friendly zones where you let them grow “wild”, while at the same time, maintain more “cultured” zones. Work with what you have. Smaller gardens will have to make do with striking the right balance between creating key habitats for wildlife, while wisely managing this process sustainably. A garden that is friendly to both man and beast is an exemplary garden indeed.
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