It's never too late to give your yard an eco-friendly makeover. Housing development destroys a million acres of habitat each year in the US alone, but you can help reverse the damage by turning your lawn into a haven for birds, butterflies, bees and other animals. Here are some tips for beautifying your garden the natural way during Garden for Wildlife Month:
1) Go native. Drop that English Ivy and pick up Richard Tallamy’s book Bringing Nature Home to learn why native plants are a better choice for wildlife. Then visit the US Forest Service site Gardening with Wildflowers or National Wildlife Federation’s native plants database to find a list of plants native to your region.
2) Give wildlife what they need. National Wildlife Federation, an EarthShare member charity, lists the elements you need to provide to wildlife: food, water, cover and a place to raise young. Birdbaths, flowering plants, and butterfly and bee houses are just a few of the potential elements of a wildlife-friendly yard.
3) Get kids involved. Your yard is the perfect place to introduce nature to children. Being outdoors also helps kids with all kinds of modern maladies from ADHD to obesity. Read The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids for fresh ideas on making gardens great places for your own wild ones.
4) Avoid chemicals. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides can harm the very organisms that protect and enrich your vibrant garden: toads, wasps, birds and more. Learn organic gardening methods like composting and companion planting to eliminate the need for chemicals. Planting with native plants (#1 above) also reduces the need for chemicals as these plants are better suited to the local environment.
5) Register your garden. National Wildlife Federation has been certifying wildlife habitats since 1973 – there are now nearly 150,000 certified habitats around the country! Even businesses, schools and places of worship participate. When you get certified, you can put a sign in your yard to share the importance of wildlife gardening with your neighbors.
Want to learn more about why protecting pollinators is so important? Don’t miss our Q&A with Jay Feldman, Executive Director of EarthShare member group, Beyond Pesticides!