Keep It Feather Friendly
Improve Any Landscape
Spring is here and every neighborhood is beginning to resemble Monet's garden, with wide pallets of color brimming with life. Gardeners are tilling the soil in anticipation of building new beauty for the home. But why not consider your feathered friends when creating a new garden space or while augmenting an existing site? Whether landscaping a 1/4-acre in the suburbs or transforming a parking strip, with a few easy steps it's easy to make your garden space beautiful and functional for wildlife.
Consult the Locals
First off, consider using native plant species throughout any nature friendly garden. Natives are already acclimated to the local climate, resistant to disease, and attractive to local wildlife. Also, many native plants are incredibly beautiful and can brighten up any green space throughout the year. The availability of native plants has increased in the last few years as many local organizations are hosting native plant sales during the spring.
Just Add Water
As all birds need water for drinking and bathing, consider adding a water feature such as a bird bath, outdoor fountain, or small pond to really start gardening for the birds. Often, clean, fresh water is not readily available in an urban environment. Bird baths can be as simple as a trash can lid turned upside down or as complex as a pond complete with waterfall. Birds don't consider the price tag (although your budget might) and will frequent your water features regardless of what you spend.
Keep the Lid on Chemicals
Remember when planning to create a safe space for the birds that frequent the garden, by reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides and herbicides. This will make your yard healthier for wildlife, pets, children, and yourself. Think about alternatives to toxic chemicals, such as hand pulling weeds, and attracting birds to eat the bugs. For example, a common garden worry is caterpillars, which you might be tempted to get rid of with a chemical compound. But remember that these larvae are not only a preferred food of warblers; they develop into butterflies. And who can resist butterflies lazily dancing from flower to flower?
Roll Out the Welcome Mat
Finally and most importantly, always remember to be a responsible birder and gardener. Keep cats inside and out of the garden. The number one killer of birds and other wildlife in the urban setting is domestic cats. When Sylvester stays inside he is safe from disease, cars, dogs, and fighting with the neighbor's cat. Now, imagine gardening for the birds and growing robust rhododendron decorated with Yellow Warblers, some Western Tanagers bathing in the new bath, and attractive robins nesting in the vine maple. It's easy to turn that dream into a reality. Just follow the above guidelines for bird friendly gardening, and going birding will be as simple as stepping outside.