Green Scene

Your Garden as a Haven for Nature's Little Helpers

A bee collects pollen while helping to pollinate a coneflower. Water can attract frogs, which have voracious appetites for mosquitoes, and other helpful predators.
A bee collects pollen while helping to pollinate a coneflower. Water can attract frogs, which have voracious appetites for mosquitoes, and other helpful predators. (Photos By Sandra Leavitt Lerner For The Washington Post)

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By Joel M. Lerner
Saturday, February 14, 2009

A natural garden can create a home for birds, butterflies, bees, chipmunks, rabbits, turtles, frogs, snakes, bats and more -- all while requiring less pruning and preening. But it takes the right flora to get the fauna to appear.

When creating a natural garden, keep in mind the three requirements for all animals: food, water and shelter. A shrub or tree can provide shelter for offspring. A pool with a shallow area is good for toads and turtles, while puddles on flat rocks give butterflies a chance to relax and have a drink. Chipmunks like tunnels, birds like safe nesting places, snakes like rocks (remember that as you lift one), and a host of wildlife will live in hollow logs and brush piles.

Here are some guidelines to make your property attractive to wildlife:

· Plant a variety of shrubs, grasses, flowers and trees that provide nectar, nuts, seeds and berries.

· Provide water. If you don't have room for a pond, a birdbath will do. Leave open space around it so birds can see predators coming and fly away.

· Reduce lawn space. Lawns are largely useless to wildlife -- there's no food, no place to hide and no shelter.

· Provide a variety of materials useful to birds building nests, including thin twigs, short lengths of thread, feathers, dryer lint, short strips of fabric or dog hair.

Design plants that are native and produce berries, and you've added an incentive for birds. Several native bird-attracting shrubs and trees are serviceberries; inkberry hollies; viburnums; blueberries; blackberries; chokeberries (Aronia arbutifolia); and dogwoods, which attract 86 aviary species.


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