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10 Simple Things You Can Do to Make Your Yard More Appealing to Wildlife

I get a thrill and a sense of well-being when I see wildlife around my home. Because of my busy lifestyle, my lawn and garden beds tend to look a little more unkempt and a little less manicured than I’d like to, the point where I expect to receive disapproving glares from neighbors. However, this lack of regular pruning, mowing, and trimming produces an unexpected bonus: more natural areas that are welcoming to wild creatures.

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There are a number of ways in which you can make your yard more hospitable to wildlife, and many of them require very little effort or maintenance:

1. Build a brush pile. Start with some larger logs, then pile on smaller branches.

2. Make or buy a toad house. Place a chipped ceramic flower pot upside-down with a hole large enough for a toad to enter, or prop the edge of the flower pot up on a stone.

3. Place dog fur, cat fur, bunny fur, and even your own hair clippings outside for birds to use in their nests. You can place the hair/fur in a net bag, or lay it out on bushes.

4. Lay off the pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Look into natural and organic remedies for lawn and garden problems.

5. Install a birdbath. Change the water every two to three days in warm weather, and use a heater in cold months to keep the water from freezing. Don’t warm up the water too much, however; birds might be tempted to bathe and then end up freezing to death.

6. Put up a bat house to encourage the presence of these shy animals. Bats can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour. Plus they’re just really cute.

7. Plant native species that produce yummy edibles for wildlife. Consult a local garden center for plants native to your area.

8. Reduce the size of your lawn. Grass lawns do very little for wildlife; try groundcovers or wildflowers instead.

9. Keep dead trees around. Resist the urge to remove them for aesthetic reasons—they make good animal habitats and bird perches!

10. Grow native flowering plants to encourage butterflies, and place flat basking stones in sunny locations for them to warm their wings on.

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  • Amanda Somers says:

    love the idea

  • nancy says:

    I love the idea of wild flowers instead of grass. Although, our neighbor’s cat likes to eat our grass, which is healthy for her. Also, her visits limits where we can attract wildlife because she will eat them. We do have a bird bath area and we put chicken wire around it to keep her out. Sadly, she did eat a blue jay and it was heart breaking. It’s her instinct so we don’t blame her of course. She’s a natural carnivore, obviously.

  • nancy says:

    Actually, it’s very bad for birds to heat the bird bath. If it freezes, simply poor hot water over it to unfreeze it. They will be fine with the cold water. Also, make sure not to put antifreeze in the bath.

  • wedding invitations says:

    Building a brush pile & Keeping dead trees around dangerously increases fuel for wildfires in some areas.

  • Brenda Sessums says:

    We have tried most of your suggestions so far and have had great results…… thank you.

  • Heather says:

    Thanks for the great ideas. I must say though, that people should consider their particular climate. Building a brush pile & Keeping dead trees around dangerously increases fuel for wildfires in some areas.

  • Nadia says:

    How do you build a bat house??? 1000 mosquitoes/hour?? Sounds great, let me get `em a house!!!

  • Gopal Aggarwal says:

    will do all these in *my* home :)

  • Jen says:

    Wow… I am amazed to find that I already do almost all of these things! I just need to get that bat house made!! Oh… and gotta pass on the toad house, as much as I’d love little froggies around. I think my chickens (for non-fertile eggs only) would eat any toad that took up residence in my yard. :(

  • ac says:

    Build a raingarden. Benefits:
    -Improved water quality in downstream waterways – benefits acquatic wildlife.
    -Improved ground water recharge – helps maintain and/or restore historic hydrologic conditions, promoting the health of native plants and animals.
    -If you plant your raingarden with native species of plants, you create wildlife habitat.

    Basically, a raingarden is a closed depression (a swamp or low area) built into your yard where you direct all of your downspouts to drain to. If you can get it near your driveway so the driveway drains to it, bonus points. It should have soils that are well draining (course sand, no clay, if possible) and some mulch on the top. Plant native grasses wildflowers, shrubs, etc. NO IVY. NO BLACKBERRY. NO HONEYSUCKLE.

    If you want more technical information and specifications, the City of Seattle, King County WA, Washington State Dept of Ecology, and U.S. EPA all have a wealth of resources for building this sustainable design feature that really benefits acquatic wildlife and provides some bird and squirrel habitat.

  • bib says:

    a toad house…. realy?

  • cassy says:

    wow dis was really helpfull will think of these things wen doing my garden

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