Gardening for Wildlife
Why Garden for Wildlife?
Gardening for wildlife is fun, is good for the environment and saves you money! Your gardens come alive with beautiful songbirds, cheerful butterflies, busy bees, frogs, pollinators and other interesting creatures. Inviting wildlife to your garden is fun for the whole family as you learn more about plants and wildlife. And of course it creates a peaceful environment to allow you to relax and unwind.
Creating a wildlife garden can save you money. Maintaining an attractive, healthy lawn is expensive, considering the annual cost of seed, fertilizer, chemicals and mowing. The more of your yard that you turn over to planting beds, the more you will save on these costs over time. The average American spends 40 hours a year mowing. Reducing the amount of grass in your yard will also save you time.
Wildlife gardens also make your yard more attractive. Replacing barren lawn with beautiful wildflowers and other native plants will increase the appeal of your property and will provide a nurturing place for wildlife.
Inviting the Birds and the Bees
The decline of butterflies and songbirds in the Mid-Atlantic is due almost entirely to loss of habitat. Habitat restoration is especially critical where commercial and residential development has eliminated most natural areas. Including lots of native plants in your gardens will help to restore this habitat.
The honey bee is the single most important pollinator of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and legume-family crops grown in the home gardens, farms and orchards of Maryland and Virginia However, in just the past few years, the wild honey bee population in Maryland and Virginia has declined dramatically. With their hives weakened by viruses, bacteria, parasitic mites and pesticides, they have not been able to survive the winters. Bees use stored sugar to survive the winter. Planting lots of pollen producing flowers will help the bee population in your neighborhood. And in turn, you'll notice lots more fruit, berries and flowers on your plants!
Elements of a Wildlife Garden
To build a wildlife habitat remember that wildlife need food, water, and shelter. If you are creating a new garden, you can design it to include these elements. Or you can simply add these elements to existing gardens.
Planting native plants is one of the easiest ways to provide food for native birds, pollinators and beneficial insects. Stadler Nurseries carries a wide variety of native trees, shrubs and perennials. Look for special signage throughout the stores which indicate native plants.
Wildlife also need shelter. Evergreens and large flowering shrubs provide lots of cover.
Few of us have a creek or pond in our backyard so it is important to include water in wildlife gardens. A simple birdbath will do the trick. Butterflies and other small creatures would appreciate small puddles of water. Tuck a few rocks with small indentations that hold a little water here and there in your gardens.