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Create a landscape that will attract wildlife

By Charlotte Meeks

Birdbaths are one way to attract wildlife to your yard and make it attractive.
Birdbaths are one way to attract wildlife to your yard and make it attractive. Getty Images

When designing an attractive landscape for your enjoyment, take some time to think about including plants and other items that will attract wildlife to your yard. Keep in mind that what you include in your design, such as plants, feeders, water features, etc. — and where you place these items — will have a great effect on the kinds of animals that will be attracted to your yard.

First, develop an overall landscape plan for your property. Be sure that your plan includes all of the areas of your yard that you want to develop. Keep your plan simple and try to avoid a cluttered look. In the beginning, don’t worry about selecting specific plants, but concentrate more on grouping plants. You should decide during the initial planning stages where such items as an ornamental pond or bird feeder will be located. Think about the views that you will have from inside your house.

When deciding what to include in your design, remember the three basic needs of wildlife: food, cover and water. The needs are the same whether in the forest or in your backyard.

FOOD

This is one of the easiest needs that you can provide. The greater the variety of food, the greater the diversity of wildlife that you are likely to attract. Food can be provided naturally from the planting of grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees. You can supplement naturally grown food with a variety of products that will attract both birds and animals. Food is one of the greatest enticements for attracting wildlife onto your property. I enjoy placing a variety of bird feeders around the yard. One can be seen from my kitchen, and another one, which my cats enjoy, can be seen from a bedroom window.

WATER

Most homeowners are not fortunate enough to have a natural source of water in their yards. Adding a watering source to your yard can be accomplished with something as simple as a birdbath or as elaborate as an ornamental pool or pond. In addition to its wildlife value, a water feature can be a focal point in the yard. Locate it so that it can be easily viewed from both outside and inside the house.

COVER

Protection from the weather and places to rest and raise young are essential components of any wildlife sanctuary. Different animals have different cover requirements, such as rock piles or stonewalls for chipmunks and lizards, dense shrubs for rabbits and birds, and water for frogs and turtles. Try to locate cover close to the food and water, and remember that many cover plants can also be food plants. Arrange plants so that they are both attractive to look at and they fit in with your overall landscape plan.

As your landscape matures and the wildlife habitat develops, it will become increasingly enjoyable.

For more information, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or visit the office at 801 Main St., Perry. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Visit www.caes.uga.edu/extension/houston for more news about your local Extension office.

DATES TO REMEMBER

Fall Series of Gardening with the Masters. Registration deadline is one week prior to the class.

Aug. 30: Tending Your Landscape in the Fall

Sept. 22: Composting for Your Garden

Oct. 18: Building Raised Beds and Cold Frames

Nov. 15: So You Want a Greenhouse …

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