You can make your backyard more attractive to wildlife regardless of your yard’s size and location. Making minor adjustments in your plant selection and placement is a great start. The key is to have sufficient quantities of the proper food, cover and water to meet species’ basic needs. Arrangement of these requirements is also important. Planning for backyard wildlife habitat is unique in that you need to supply these basic requirements, but it must conform and integrate with your landscape design. Homeowners living in more rural habitats surrounded by woodlands, wetlands or meadows will be able to attract many wildlife species. Homeowners with smaller lots in urban areas, however, can still attract wildlife including chipmunks, tree squirrels and some songbirds.
A basic tenet of attracting wildlife is diversity. Maximize the number of plant species in your yard. Favor a mixture of plants with varying timing of blooms and fruit, height and structure. Intersperse wildlife-friendly trees with other habitat components like shrubs, wildflowers, vines and water sources.
There are a variety of bird, mammal, amphibian, reptile and insect species that may want to call your backyard home. While each species has specific food requirements, providing an abundance of common food categories, including insects, seeds, green vegetation, fruits, nuts and nectar, will appeal to the broadest array of wildlife species. All animals need some source of water near the place they call home. If a permanent water supply is not present near your yard, the addition of a backyard pond or birdbath can provide this needed feature to your landscape. Favor large trees with cavities in your yard; nest boxes may supplement natural cavities. Tall shrubs and conifer trees around your home will provide nesting habitat and winter cover for many songbirds.
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