Everyone loves an idyllic garden, but what very few people think about when designing these spaces is the wildlife. However, garden design and wildlife actually go hand in hand. Encouraging birds, insects, and other wildlife into the garden can actually help beautify the existing gardenscape as well as promote the ecosystem and environment.
Gardens play an integral role in nature, especially when humans build up so many places and remove what is natural. Gardens can provide both food and shelter for a wide variety of plants and animals, but they can also be a natural pathway between humanized areas and open, natural spaces. Furthermore, a simple garden in the backyard can also serve as a suitable nesting or hibernation site for certain creatures.
There are lots of things that gardeners can do to encourage more wildlife into their gardens, ranging from something as simple as digging a pond and building a rockery to buying natural garden accessories from here. Here are some ideas as to how to promote wildlife in garden design.
Give wildlife what it needs
The first step to encouraging wildlife into any garden is to make the space as natural as possible. This may sound like a no-brainer, as a garden is intended to be a natural haven in one’s own yard. However, in order for wildlife to make the garden into their home as well, the garden needs to provide three basic resources: food, water and shelter. This can be done easily by adding a few nest boxes, a birdbath, a small pond and bird feeders.
Additionally, including certain types plants will also provide a source of food for many animals and insects. Natural food sources typically include berries, seeds and insects attracted to flowering plants. Fruit trees, holly, bramble, spindle, sunflowers, honeysuckle and herbs are all excellent for this purpose.
Offer plenty of water
A water source is essential for plants and animals to survive. A simple birdbath can also do wonders for a garden’s look, but creating a small pond in the garden can take it a step further. A pond can provide not only water for animals to drink and bathe with, but also a breeding site for many types of invertebrates and amphibians.
When adding a pond to a garden, it is important to place it in the right spot – away from trees and in a spot where there is plenty of sun exposure. There should be at least one side of the pond that slopes gradually so that amphibians can access dry land. Using a flexible liner rather than a pre-formed pond structure most easily accomplishes this. Remember not to introduce rampant non-native plants and fish to the pond so as to promote the local wildlife.
The decisions garden planners make have a direct impact on the local wildlife, even decisions on winterizing the garden. Gardeners must consider both plants and animals when preparing for the winter. As temperatures drop, it is important to clear out any blackened stems and foliage of annual flowers to prevent disease and insect eggs throughout the winter. This is also a good time to spread new mulch, as a lot is going on under the soil during these cold months – bulbs are growing roots, earthworms are processing any organic material they find and small creatures are hibernating until the spring.