Conservation of wildlife habitat doesn’t just rely on government entities setting aside land, or private corporations pledging to keep areas wild. While these efforts certainly can have a significant impact, habitat restoration and conservation also depends on us–we can create extensive habitat by dedicating parts of our yards to natural plants that support our birds, insects, and other urban and suburban wildlife.
With acres and acres of turf grass separating each patch of usable habitat, it can be difficult for these pollinators to effectively do their job or find enough food, water, and shelter for survival. By converting even just a few square feet of your yard to native plants, you can attract and support these incredible creatures–and your other plants will benefit from their pollination services!
An easy way to provide food for local wildlife is to install a feeder. Birds will have access to the food first, and then the seeds they drop can help feed animals such as squirrels and chipmunks. Additionally, planting native flowers and shrubs that flower and fruit at different times of the year will ensure that wildlife visiting your landscape have food year-round. Plants such as a holly tree produce berries that many species of birds enjoy, while tree species like oaks and hickories produce valuable nuts for small mammals. Though most hummingbirds migrate to Mexico and Central America in the winter, some do remain here in South Florida year-round. Having plants like winter jasmine and firespike that bloom throughout the winter ensures that those birds that stay have a food source.
All living things require water. Installing a birdbath is an easy way to provide water and be able to change it out frequently to prevent scum from developing and to deter mosquitoes from taking advantage of the standing water. Bats will be able to swoop down and drink from it as well, and their presence will help significantly to keep the local mosquito population in check. For a more permanent structure, water features and koi ponds are an excellent and gorgeous way for everything–animals, your landscape, and yourself–to benefit.
Another critical component of habitat is shelter. Animals need a safe place to hide from predators and to raise their young. Bat houses, bird houses, and native bee houses are all easy to install and a great way to gain resident wildlife. Increasing the amount of vertical variation you have in your yard also contributes to wildlife habitat–some species prefer low bushes, while others need medium or large shrubs, and others prefer living in the treetops. The greater number of layers you have in your vegetation structure, the more attractive your landscape will be to birds.
Once you’ve established all these items, you can share your efforts with others by applying for an official National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat Certification and yard sign. This is not only a feel-good opportunity, but can also increase your home’s value. Finally, be sure to invest in a pair of binoculars to observe all the wonderful birds and other creatures your wildlife-friendly yard attracts.
Our Big Earth Landscape Supply locations provide endless inspiration for backyard landscapes. From pavers to birdbaths, from natural stone firepits to beautiful fountains – come visit, browse, and find your dream yard at one of our showrooms.