Attracting Birds to Your Garden

It is such a delight when songbirds make your garden their home. Creating a landscape that welcomes songbirds is easy. Birds require three basic needs be met: food, shelter and water. You do not need to create a special "bird garden." You just need to be sure these three elements can be found in your yard.

Birds (and butterflies) prefer a natural landscape - one where the shrubs are not tightly sheared, the flowers are not all deadheaded and the lawn not closely cropped. Birds need places to rest, hide and food to eat. Extremely tidy yards do not offer these havens. (Great news for those gardeners looking for an excuse to be slightly lazy!)

There are many plants which offer seeds and berries that birds cannot resist. Evergreens offer a good source of berries and seed-filled cones. They also offer year-round shelter and breeding sites. Some excellent choices are white pine, juniper, hollies, spruce and arborvitae.

Include berry-rich deciduous trees and shrubs in your gardens as well. Viburnum, winterberry, dogwood, serviceberry, blueberries and cotoneaster are all favorites. Flowers are also excellent sources of seeds and nectar for birds. Try sunflowers, Black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, asters, bee balm, zinnias and liatris. If you do not remove the spent flowers filled with seeds, you'll provide an extended food source into the winter months.

In addition to providing plants for cover and food, you should not use, or at least severely limit the use of, chemical pesticides and lawn food used in your yard. A bird bath or two will be used all summer long. Remember to keep the bird bath clean and filled with fresh water.

Growing a garden that welcomes songbirds is enjoyable for so many reasons. The garden itself is more beautiful with the addition of flowers and bountiful berries. Watching and learning about songbirds and their habitats can become a lifelong passion.

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