Go Wild With Your Landscaping

IF YOU want to landscape your yard to attract birds and other wildlife, the first rule of thumb (a gardener’s green thumb, that is) is to go native.

Plants that are native to our soil and climate provide the best overall food sources for wildlife and support from 10 to 50 times more native wildlife, mostly insects, than exotic or non-native plants.

You’ll also want to be sure to choose a variety of plants. Some evergreen trees and shrubs for shelter year-round, some deciduous trees. Trees and shrubs that bear fruit in the late summer and fall can provide food for fruit-eating birds all winter long. Dense shrubs can provide places for birds to court, nest and raise their young.

Start by assessing your yard and determining how you want to enhance what you already have. WindStar’s website offers information that can help you get started. It includes a list of shrubs, trees, flowers and evergreens that are native to your area.

Wildlife gardening tip: Allow flowers such as cosmos, marigolds and composite varieties to go to seed.Goldfinches and other seed eating birds are fun to watch as they skillfully glean these delicate seeds in late summer and fall.

Who doesn’t smile at the sight of butterflies flitting through the yard, stopping here or there for a sip of nectar? If you’d like to attract these summer stars to your yard, you’ll need the right nectar plants and the right host plants. Butterflies use host plants as a place to lay their eggs and as a food source for the caterpillars that hatch from those eggs.

For instance, Monarch Butterflies lay their eggs only on milkweed plants. Once the caterpillars hatch from the eggs they eat the leaves of the plant. The silvery blue butterfly has the same relationship with wild pea blossoms.

Development and use of insecticides have wreaked havoc on butterfly habitats. But these creatures are an important part of the ecosystem–pollinating crops and plants and providing joy to many people.

Most adult butterflies feed on nectar from a variety of nectar producing plants. Some, such as the Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Tiger Swallowtail and Mourning Cloak, will feed from butterfly nectar feeders. Use a solution of one part sugar to 18 parts water. To help butterflies find the feeder, place rotten fruit, such as bananas and pears, on top of the feeder.

You’ll also want to consider providing a source of water for your birds, and sources of shelter and nest boxes for birds to raise their young. –Times Leader