Gone are the days of meticulous garden maintenance. Traditionally, when we think of gardens we envision neat rows and columns of plants, each politely contained to its own space. But that’s not the case anymore. If painstaking weeding and pruning isn’t your style, then this upcoming garden trend is for you!
One of the biggest gardening trends blossoming in 2021 is the creation of wildlife gardens. This rise of “ungardening” doesn’t mean tearing up your backyard and replacing it with a jungle of unkempt plants. On the contrary, wild gardens are meant to be a quiet refuge for homeowners and wildlife alike. A wildlife garden acts as a sustainable haven for regional wildlife and creates a restful scene of nature for the gardener to enjoy.
But why would a gardener want to intentionally invite birds, insects, and other small mammals into their garden in the first place? As the construction of homes, roads, schools, and other commercial buildings increases, many natural habitats are also completely destroyed. As a result, these birds, insects, and animals lose their homes at an alarming rate and we lose many native species, harming the biodiversity across the country. These species pollinate plants and maintain vital balance in nature, roles which the environment and agriculture depend upon.
Many people create sustainable wildlife gardens to support their local wildlife and help local ecosystems grow and thrive. In addition, many start wildlife gardens simply because they love nature viewing, and what’s better than having a beautiful glimpse of nature right in your backyard? Both are great reasons to start wildlife gardens this upcoming spring. However, though wildlife gardens certainly require less maintenance and landscaping than traditional gardens, you should consider these design points before digging in.
Choosing the Right Flowers and Plants
Have you ever looked outside while it’s raining and wondered what all the birds, animals, and insects are doing? They were most likely hunkering down under shrubs, trees, long grasses, and tall plants. These common outdoor features serve a variety of functional purposes for wildlife, such as protection from predators, protection from the elements, a place to rest and sleep, and a shady place to cool down in the summer. As you create your wildlife garden, your goal should be to balance the ornamental with the functional. Blend sturdy plants and shrubbery that protect wildlife along with the billowing, colorful flowers that attract birds and insects and encourage them to pollinate. Depending on what you want to see most in your garden—bumblebees, butterflies, or birds—look into the native plants of your region and learn which plants attract what.
Introducing a Water Feature
All creatures need water to survive, so it shouldn’t be surprising that a water feature is needed for wildlife to feel truly at home in your garden. A traditional birdbath will do the trick, but also consider wildlife level to the ground. A decorative rock with a divot naturally collects rainwater and gives butterflies or bunnies a chance to hydrate. If you’re feeling even more inventive, you could even install a small pond in a low-level, boggy area of your landscape. You’ll get the added bonus of fish, frogs, and dragonflies!
Cutting out the Chemicals
When you’re goal is to create sustainable habitats for wildlife, chemical fertilizers and chemical pest repellants play no part. The introduction of poisonous chemicals to the soil and water in your garden will do more harm than good, likely killing the good along with the bad. A wildlife garden shows that nature, when left alone, regulates itself into perfect balance. Natural compost along with correct watering practices will create strong plants that naturally fend themselves from bad insects. Take a look at Fawn Organics’ articles on composting and natural pest controls for more information.
Dealing with Unwanted Guests
It should go without saying that most people don’t want to create a raccoon or opossum kingdom in their backyard. When we’re dreaming of the beautiful butterflies and birds that will be attracted to the garden, we also forget about the skunks, raccoons, opossums, and deer we want to keep out. Maintaining and cleaning up any feeding areas should discourage skunks, opossums, and raccoons from scavenging. If you don’t want deer in your garden, hanging some wind chimes will make skittish deer nervous and keep them away. However, with wildlife gardens, you should expect to keep company with all types of insects, birds, and animals—it’s an innate part of the garden’s function and its charm!
What are your thoughts on wildlife gardens? Will you dig in on this 2021 gardening trend?
Let us know in the comments!