Create a sustainable haven for wildlife in your own backyard
Written byJim McCauslandMay 3, 2011
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1 of8Joshua McCullough
Most people looking for wild animals go on a hike or hit up a zoo. Not Lisa Albert, a community-minded mom, writer, and speaker. She wanted to bring them directly to her Portland-area garden. The high point: Since Lisa designed a plot that followed the National Wildlife Federation’s guidelines for giving critters food, water, cover, space, and sustainability, it was designated a Certified Wildlife Habitat.
2 of8Joshua McCullough
Bone up on your local ecosystem
Lisa got plant ideas from websites like nwf.org and butterfliesandmoths.org, and books such as Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest (University of Washington Press, 1999; $35).
3 of8Joshua McCullough
Plant close together
Dense plantings create welcoming spaces for wild creatures to make their homes, and gives them a place to flee from predators.
4 of8Joshua McCullough
Nix bird feeders
They draw birds to one location, making them easy targets for hawks. Nectar, seeds, and fruit are supplied by plants, including natives like red-flowering currant, evergreen huckleberry, fringe cups, and red elderberry. They blend with non-native fuchsias, dogwoods, roses, and arborvitaes.
5 of8Joshua McCullough
Skip traditional birdbaths
These require water to be changed often. Plus, Lisa found that birds are attracted to the sound of splashing, and probably to twinkling light reflections too. Adding a pond and waterfall increased the number of birds dramatically, she says.
6 of8Joshua McCullough
Set up a dragnet
In her pond, Lisa uses Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) dunks, which contain a natural, biological mosquito larvae killer. They don’t harm beneficial insects.
7 of8Joshua McCullough
Build a natural wall
To stabilize a slope and make it easier for gardening, Lisa and her husband, Gary, built a 200-foot-long wall as time allowed. They used rock to create a naturalistic look. Tree frogs hide in the wall’s moist crevices.
8 of8Joshua McCullough
Welcome in wildlife
All the preceding touches help attract garden-friendly local species. What Lisa’s spotted in her yard so far: Three dozen kinds of birds, including Western tanagers, flickers, grosbeaks, chickadees, spotted towhees, rufous and Anna’s hummingbirds, and Cooper’s hawks; butterflies such as swallowtails, painted ladies, and fritillaries; bees; ladybugs; lacewings; Pacific tree frogs.