Wildlife Friendly Landscapes

— Written By and last updated by

image by Kathleen Moore

We can enhance natural features in our yards to create wildlife-friendly habitats. Such habitats should include the four major resources that wildlife requires to survive: cover (such as clusters of trees and shrubs for wildlife to escape from predators), water from ponds or water gardens, places to raise young (including nesting sites and birdhouses), and year-round food sources.

To enhance the variety of habitats and food sources for wildlife, include diverse plant species. Increase forage for pollinators by including at least three or more species blooming in each growing season. Incorporate plants that produce soft mast or hard mast (fruits and seeds) such as Viburnum nudum and Rudbeckia fulgida.

Because species have different habitat preferences, a yard with diverse canopy heights (low-growing ground covers, herbaceous perennials, shrubs or small trees, and large trees) will provide shelter and nesting sites for the greatest variety of birds and other wildlife.

For tips on planning wildlife habitats, see the wildlife chapter and the native plants chapter in the NC Extension Gardener Handbook. The Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox ‘Find a Plant’ feature also includes options that can sort plant species by the type of wildlife they attract.

—Hanna Smith

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