A healthy property has wildlife, birds, insects, soil life and the native plants they need, all working together as they do in natural ecosystems. And enjoying wildlife is a major benefit for you as the landowner too. If you have a diverse plant community in your yard, with many types and sizes of plants, you are well on your way to a conservation landscape that supports wildlife. Add plants that have flowers, fruits and nuts that are available at a variety of times of the year. It’s also important to consider vertical space as well as horizontal, and add plants that will reach different heights. Dense plants such as evergreens create cover for wildlife. And don’t underestimate the value of dead and dying plants, as hollow cavities and rotting wood, branches and brush piles, leaf litter and dried weeds all add habitat value to your landscape. So, it is often important to realize that neatness isn’t always the only thing that is beautiful! And, you’ll find that a landscape with diverse plantings and layers will have an attractive, landscaped appearance regardless.
Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, bees, butterflies and other insects and soil life are all vital. It’s important to consider all the needs that each of these types of animals have as you create habitat, including food, water and shelter. You can add food, feeders, houses, water features and other elements to help each of these types of creatures. Shelter includes hiding places, protection from the elements, and appropriate places for nesting and raising young. In addition to our wildlife habitat criteria, criteria 2 offer practices to create healthy soil conditions which support soil life as well as providing the basis for a healthy landscape. See the checklist and the resource guides below to help you with the details of creating habitat elements.
Don’t forget that even a small residential yard can be a haven for nature...one participant counted 11 species of mammals visiting her yard located in the city as she added habitat elements. It’s easy to create places that offer a functioning, healthy ecosystem that our birds, insects, and wildlife need in the face of habitat loss, pests, and climate change.