Landscaping For Wildlife With Native Plants

Monarch on a goldenrod

Wildscaping makes it possible to create attractive, low maintenance habitat needed to support a diversity of wildlife species in urban and residential settings. Such landscaping assures that wildlife have the space in which to raise their young and places to hide from predators. It may involve converting unused areas of lawns and gardens or creating tree and shrub borders. Simply leaving some grassy areas untouched can provide wildlife with necessary food and cover.

People want to attract wildlife to their yards for a variety of reasons, but most important is that birds and other animals bring us pleasure. The cheerful songs of cardinals and mockingbirds, the playful antics of young squirrels at feeders and the sight of colorful butterflies fluttering above wildflower meadows provide us with a joy that cannot be measured.

Wildlife can assist humans by controlling insects and other pests. They also give us a glimpse of natural beauty, such as a red-headed woodpecker washing itself at a birdbath. We experience the complex diversity of nature first hand when we live close to nature.

Bulldozers and backhoes are eliminating the living spaces of many wild creatures in our increasingly changing environment. It is especially critical to preserve native wildlife and plants in our cities, towns and suburbs. We need to maintain that important link between people and wildlife and restore the sense of stewardship we once had for the land. Unfortunately, with more than 75 percent of the nation's population now living in urban areas, the fastest growing habitat is concrete and asphalt.

It is simple to attract wildlife to your yard by providing four basic requirements: food, water, cover, and space. Native plants play an important role in providing these requirements because a well planned landscape can create the habitat that wildlife need for food, rest, raising young, and finding protection from predators and the weather. The more diverse the landscape, the better. A landscape with many plant species supports an abundance of wildlife. Many more wildlife species will visit a small or average-sized yard with a high diversity of habitat than a yard with a large, mowed area.

Managing yards for wildlife also benefits people in a variety of ways. Diverse landscapes are less likely to attract insect and rodent pests and are more likely to encourage insect eating predators. This reduces the costs associated with insecticides and extermination services. Yards offering a diversity of native plant species will have fewer disease problems and need less maintenance than a lawn that must be mowed and watered. When you add plants to an area you help control erosion and stabilize the habitat while providing food for wildlife.

Wildscaping is a habitat restoration and conservation plan for rural and urban areas. As Tennessee's population increases, more green space is consumed for human needs driving animals and birds out of the habitat they need for survival. Small suburban lots, townhouse developments, city parks and even highway roadsides can be managed with wildlife in mind.

If we begin with the simple, yet pleasant task of bringing wildlife closer to home, we will set a precedent to manage for wildlife on a larger scale. You can make habitat improvements that will benefit your wildlife neighbors no matter where you live in Tennessee,.

You can enjoy and understand the role wildlife plays in your community by inviting wildlife to seek refuge on your property. Attract wildlife by planting trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses. It helps our wildlife, and it's fun!

Wildscaping provides the essential living requirements for a variety of wildlife. This is accomplished by planting and maintaining native vegetation, installing artificial houses and ponds, and creating structure. Feeding birds and other wildlife can supplement native vegetation, but can never replace it. The goal is to provide places for wildlife to feed, drink, escape from predators, and raise their young.

It is important not to ignore local laws or homeowners agreements when wildscaping. Some towns and cities in Tennessee have “Weed Laws” so be certain to comply with your local ordinances.

Using native plants will attract a variety of wildlife. Hummingbirds, for example, are attracted to tubular flowers like native honeysuckle and cardinal flower. You can also attract songbirds to feed on mulberry, hackberry, or black cherry trees.

Wildscaping in Tennessee is more than a backyard program and can be used to enhance all types of landscapes. Parks, churches, schools, and even apartments and nursing homes can become involved.

You can do more than just attract birds. Every species has its own specific habitat requirements and chances are good that whatever you desire; butterflies, frogs, or even lizards will be sharing your WILDSCAPE!