Homeowners who landscape with native plants and trees such as maples, oaks, asters, cherry trees, and sunflowers are planting bird food factories. Native trees and plants grow faster and ship caterpillars in bulk by providing the complete ecosystem. The flowering and fruit-bearing trees make regular deliveries of seeds and fruits that help fuel bird migrations over multiple continents and thousands of miles.
The plants and trees in our yards are just as useful as the bird feeder you put up in wintertime because the plants are making the food that feeds the birds in the summertime. We are going to provide you the steps and tools to create your yard into a butterfly and bird-friendly sanctuary for all seasons.
Selecting plants that host the insects' birds eat is only part of the big picture. Fruiting trees and plants provide seeds to fuel birds during migration. There are many other features other than food that plants should also be selected for, such as a useful nesting structure or shelter during extreme weather. Just as some plants can sustain diverse caterpillar populations, others provide excellent options for safety from predators and a nesting structure.
Nesting boxes hung on posts, or trees are another essential feature because people tend to remove trees and other structures with empty holes that birds would use naturally. Birds need sitting perches; perches allow them to keep an eye out for predators. This same perch should have a place to weather a winter storm or get out of the sun on a hot day. The location of the nesting boxes should have a place for drinking and bathing; and even some prickly shrubs that can provide a fortress against lurking animals, including cats.
Steps to Produce a Bird-Friendly Yard
The main objective and most essential step in converting your yard to a more natural bird-friendly environment: remove invasive exotic plants; native plant species; reduce pesticide use; conserve water; protect water quality, and support birds and other wildlife.
Don't go and rip all your plants out at once without a plan. Plan your work and work your plan. If you chop, dig, or take something out, be ready to replace it with two new plants. Planting more plants will help promote a lusher, more attractive garden.
Gardens brimming with native plants look weedy is an unfortunate misconception. If you go to the beautiful gardens of Europe, many of the plants they display are from North America.
When native flowers and grasses grow freely among native trees and shrubs, they create a self-sustaining environment that supports plants and the resident amphibians, butterflies, mammals, birds and bees that rely on them in every season. Native plants require less maintenance than exotic species because they are ideally suited to the soil and climate.
Look around your home town for plants that interest you, take a picture, and identify it. If it's native and hearty to your location, pick two up at your local garden nursery. To connect with nature, people travel far to National Parks. You can do that right at home - every time you look out the window or go outside.
Cater to Critters
Fluttering butterflies and singing birds will quickly add sensory sparkle to any size garden. We will continue to push the use of carefree natives. Try some medium height grasses to line a walkway leading to a potting shed or your secret sanctuary.
Wild grasses, including switchgrass and little bluestem, offer year-round interest. Perennials such as coneflower, New England aster, coneflower, and butterfly weed provide color and nectar.
Layer, Layer, and Layer More Flowers
The butterflies, birds, bees, and other critters congregate in environments featuring multi-tiered, densely packed arrangements of evergreen trees and deciduous (trees that the leaves fall off), fruiting shrubs and vines, and ground-level grasses and perennials.
Wildlife-pleasing composition shines through when you combine perennials, shrubs, and trees that supply sustenance and structure through the year. Serve someone's appetite with a vast roster including Russian sage, sedum, salvia, Agastache, phlox, and hydrangea for pollinator potential.
Species depends on the location of your home and the natural plants to your area. You can find many of the species we list or alternative replacements at your local nursery.
Birdbath and Birdfeeders
Birdbaths and birdfeeders are available in a variety of materials and styles. Birds prefer shallow basins (maximum of 2 inches deep) that have a rough surface for excellent gripping. Your landscape will come alive by adding a wet spot where birds can drink and bathe.
Place a birdbath a few yards from a shrub or tree, so the area surrounding it is open, for protection against lurking cats and other predators, yet close enough to sheltered perches for quick getaways. Consider using a birdbath heater in the winter when below-freezing temperatures render most natural sources undrinkable.
Above all, keep your birdbath clean. Add fresh water often, and scrub the basin weekly with a stiff brush. Placement depends on the birds you are trying to attract. Include birdhouses to bring in nesting pairs to raise their babies under your watchful eye.
Lure butterflies to your backyard or patio if space is scarce. Flowering delicacies, including verbena, lantana, marigold, and calibrachoa, keep winged diners coming back for nectar all season. Curly parsley leaves provide a place to lay eggs of many butterfly species, the hatching larvae or caterpillars are rewarded with an excellent source of food.
Like butterflies, hummingbirds are looking for a quick energy source, so they go for flowers that produce nectar. A hummingbird uses its long beak-like silage to sip the sweet substance from some single blooms, such as hummingbird mint, columbine, scarlet sage, coral bells, bee balm, trumpet vine, hosta, cardinal flower, and honeysuckle. Hummingbirds most readily see orange and red, but once they're in a garden, they'll visit blooms of other colors, too.
By keeping feeders filled all year, you get loyal friends. During the fridged winter months is when birds benefit the most from free handouts — making winter one of the best times to feed your feathered friends. But spring and summer feeding offer big rewards, too.
To attract the most significant array of birds, start with the basic four types of feeders: a tray feeder, a suet feeder, a tube feeder, and a nectar feeder.
Got Bugs? Get Some
Not all bugs are bad. Many notable exceptions, such as praying mantis, devote their lives to a noble cause. These massive creatures creep and fly through our gardens like a cape crusader ridding our gardens of evildoers, such as aphids.
Mantis are good news for gardeners who want the best of both worlds, a pest-free garden and a healthy habitat for both wildlife and people. A healthy, well-balanced environment includes bugs, which in turn attract insect-eating birds, which in turn gives us the much-needed relaxation space we are striving.
For Your Viewing Pleasure
A patio can be a welcoming extension of the house, calling you outdoors to enjoy cool breezes, fresh air the sounds of birds and the smell of fresh blooming flowers. With a little planning, you can make your patio a perfect viewing location and comfortable seasonal room.
When you are designing a new patio, the material choices range from stone, concrete, or brick. Your patio should be designed to be an extension of your home. Use flower planters, container gardens, pots, and weatherproof furniture to decorate outdoors.
Create the layout, so your view is the hard work you have been doing on your beautiful new garden. Sip a cup of tea and sit back, relax you now have a bird-friendly yard. If you have more tips or ideas, please feel free to leave a comment below.