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Attracting wildlife to your yard

By Ed Ball | Published on December 15, 2021 | 2 min read

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To live in harmony with nature is one of the great joys of homeownership. Whether you live in a dense neighborhood or have a bit more sprawl, you can invite beneficial wildlife into your yard through the seasons.

With so much diversity available, you can choose (to some extent) the type of wildlife you want in your yard. While some people may see squirrels as a nuisance, perhaps you enjoy setting out food for them. Others enjoy the challenge of inviting as many bird species to their feeders and plants as possible. Still, others enjoy feeding the area fox and watching her kits play, growing up in the backyard.

No matter your preference, there are ways to add natural and artificial elements to your landscape design to attract wildlife to share your space.

Let’s hear it for the bees

Using native and flowering plants in your yard encourages pollinators like bees to flit between plants, which is beneficial for both the plants and the bees. You may not realize that bees also need suitable water sources shallow enough for them to land and drink safely. You can put out a shallow dish of water filled with marbles and water to give bees a perch to drink in between pollinating your yard.

Hummingbirds are also attracted to colorful blooms and can be invited by using hummingbird feeders with a proper sugar solution. Hummingbirds have a migration pattern and begin to show up in our region in late May, so it brings an added joy when you start seeing them in your yard. Be sure to do a little research to ensure you are feeding them correctly when hanging feeders.

Depending on what other birds you want to invite will guide the types of food and feeders you set out. While some birds, such as orioles enjoy fruit, goldfinches will dominate a thistle feeder. Throughout the winter, birds who stay in the area will also need different foods often containing some fat to stay warm. Suet cakes can be store-bought or made at home to attract birds when trees are bare.

Both bees and birds will benefit from a diverse landscape where they can nest, feed and stay safe from predators throughout the year. There are also houses you can set out for birds, bees and even bats (aka mosquito eaters!) to provide shelter within your yard.

Furry friends

If you prefer your wildlife to have fur instead of feathers, you can provide feeders and food sources to entice them to stay. Be aware that raccoons may also enjoy the same food that foxes  enjoy, so do your research!

Feed stores and retailers like Tractor Supply sell packaged food for deer (typically corn) and can advise you on feeding other animals like foxes. Bird specialty stores and home improvement retailers carry squirrel feeders to hold the nuts they enjoy. It’s best to place these types of feeders away from your home to avoid inviting rodents near your house. It’s always a balance with nature!

No matter your preference for wildlife, be sure to have multiple clean water sources and change the water regularly. Birdbaths, bee waterers and buckets for water for larger animals will encourage them to visit more often. Just be sure to keep your dogs away from those sources to minimize the spread of disease.

Your landscape designer can create a wildlife-friendly landscape – complete with water sources, native plants and shelter. Then, be prepared to take a lot of photographs and videos of the beauty that visits your oasis!