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Attracting Backyard Wildlife

ButterflyMany people think of providing food and water for backyard birds during the winter months, but it is something to be aware of year-round if you enjoy the activity provided by birds, squirrels and other wildlife.

Spring is one of the leanest times of the year for natural food sources. Insect activity is still sparse, and the seeds and fruits from fall are long gone—just at the very time when birds and other wildlife need more food than ever to support migration, courting, mating and raising their young. The gardener with stocked bird feeders and dependable water sources for bathing and drinking will see birds he never dreamed he’d see in his garden.

In addition to seeds and water, your landscaping plant choices can transform your yard into a dependable and comfortable wildlife habitat not only for birds and squirrels, but for butterflies, toads, dragonflies, even bats. Wildlife gardening is becoming more popular because most gardeners already have an excellent beginning for a wildlife habitat and, too, the typical wildlife garden means much less work for the gardener!

Here are the four simple basics of wildlife landscaping:
1. Food: Select plants for summer fruits, fall fruits and seeds, and supplement them with feeders to bring the birds and their young up close.
2. Water: Choose a bird bath of the proper depth for bathing or add “moving water” such as a fountain or waterfall with shallow areas for bathing and drinking.
3. Shelter: Provide plants or structures for protection from both predators and weather.
4. Nesting Sites: This includes deadwood on trees, an overgrown area or thicket, and man-made houses for birds, insects or small mammals.

Next, you should know that wildlife gardening isn’t just about plants. How you garden is a key factor. Allowing some of your annuals and perennials to go to seed in the late summer means less work deadheading those plants. In some chosen perimeter areas, let the weeds grow and you’ll be rewarded with more butterflies, fireflies and ladybugs; and in proximity to a pond, dragonflies and toads. Learn how to control disease and pests in the garden with a minimum of pesticides and herbicides, and remember that the very birds and beneficial insects you attract will actually reduce your need for pesticides entirely! Gardening with nature in mind also requires less water and less fertilizing.

At Johnson’s, we have the plants and expertise to help you establish a wildlife habitat that requires less work while you enjoy all the activity within it. We can help you start from scratch or change over part or all of an existing garden to a wildlife habitat. The information below indicates some of the trees, shrubs, vines and perennials that are attractive to birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. While most trees and shrubs are attractive to wildlife, this list indicates which plants provide a food source.

BIRDS
Shrubs for Birds: Barberry, Chokeberry, Cistina Plum, Cotoneaster, Dogwood, Euonymus (types), European Elder, Holly, Honeysuckle, Mahonia, Pyracantha, Quince, Serviceberry, Sumac, Viburnum

Vines & Ground Covers for Birds: American Bittersweet, Bearberry, Kiwi, Trumpet

Vine Trees for Birds: Birch, Black Locust, Cherry (types), Chokecherry, Crabapple, Hackberry, Hawthorn, Linden (types), Oak, Serviceberry

Evergreens for Birds: Cedar, Juniper (types), Pine (types), Spruce (types), White Fir, Yew (types)

BUTTERFLIES
Shrubs for Butterflies: Abelia, Althea, Butterfly Bush, Caryopteris, Chastetree, Cistena Plum, Clethra, Dogwood (types), Jacqueline Hillier Elm, Hypericum, Lilac, Mockorange, Potentilla, Privet, Pussy Willow, Quince (types), Scotch Broom, Spirea, Sumac (types), Weigela, Willow

Vines for Butterflies: Honeysuckle, Ornamental Hops

Trees for Butterflies: Birch (types), Cherry (types), Chokecherry, Elm, Hackberry, Hawthorn, Lilac Tree, Linden, Oak (types), Plum, Redbud (types), Tulip Tree, Willow

Perennials for Butterflies: Achillea, Agastache, Aquilegia, Asclepias, Aster, Centranthus, Chrysanthemum, Coreopsis, Dianthus, Echinacea, Gaillardia, Geranium, Helenium, Hemerocallis, Heuchera, Hosta, Lamium, Leucanthemum, Lobelia, Penstemon, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Scabiosa, Sedum, Tall Phlox, Veronica

HUMMINGBIRDS
Shrubs for Hummingbirds: Abelia (types), Althea, Butterfly Bush, Caryopteris (types), Chastetree (types), Clethra

Vines for Hummingbirds: Honeysuckle

Trees for Hummingbirds: Mimosa

Perennials for Hummingbirds: Agastache, Alcea, Aquilegia, Hemerocallis, Heuchera, Hibiscus, Hosta, Lobelia, Penstemon

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Landscaping for wildlife