Last time I talked about spring and the meaning behind it. I also made the remark about starting a garden quite a bit. Now I would like to plant a seed of suggestion in your head about making your backyard a wildlife habitat.
Pollinators, as well as other animals, are quickly dying out because few people seem to take into consideration what happens when we take their homes away and stop planting their food source; today’s generation also doesn’t seem to care about preserving nature either. Through four easy steps, you could do your part in helping Mother Nature and have a gorgeous yard while you’re at it.
Step one would be to provide a source of food for insects, birds, and other wildlife. When choosing what to plant, keep in mind that Sampson County falls under Zone 8 in the planting zones. Flowers are the best things to plant for honey or mason bees, ladybugs, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Aster, cosmos, four o’clock, and lavender are great choices for bees; an additional bonus to having lavender around is that mosquitoes hate them. If you’d love to have some ladybugs around, try planting some angelica, yarrow, geraniums, and dandelions; ladybugs can also be commercially purchased if you don’t have enough room in your garden to plant flowers specifically for them. Hummingbirds need nectar rich flowers such as dahlia, foxglove, iris, and lilies; a well-placed feeder can also help bring them to your yard. Butterflies are attracted by fennel, marigold, and daisies; to help the Monarch population specifically, plant milkweed as that is the only plant that can be used and it’s quickly dying out.
Now that you know what to plant, step two is to provide a steady source of clean water. This can be done through a shallow bird bath or a small puddle for most birds, a nice pond, or even a shallow pool. This is possibly the easiest step.
Next is providing shelter for all the wildlife you’ve attracted. You can become an actual beekeeper and get tons of free honey; be sure to do the proper research first of course. Mason bees can be housed in blocks of untreated wood drilled at different sizes or you can simply buy one. Bird houses can be purchased along with a couple bat houses. Bats are great to have around because they eat all the mosquitoes around your house; the more they eat, the less there is to bite you and your family.
Finally, just maintain the habitat through good gardening skills and by keeping the various feeders full.
A terrific option after establishing a well-kept habitat is to actually get your yard certified. It’s not required and you can just enjoy your little yard without the certification, but I think it would be a fun achievement to show off to your friends. More than 90,000 homeowners around the US have a certified back yard! To get your certification, get on the Internet at home or your local library and go to www.nwf.org and then you can simply search for “Certified Wildlife Habitat” using the search bar. I hope you enjoy your new habitat!