Creating an Individual Backyard Habitat
Whether you have an apartment balcony or a 20-acre farm, you can create a garden that attracts beautiful wildlife and helps restore habitat in commercial and residential areas. By providing food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young--and by incorporating sustainable gardening practices--you not only help wildlife, but you may also qualify to become a certified backyard habitat. Here are some main ingredients you will need to include in your backyard to attract wildlife.
1. Providing food for wildlife -- Everyone needs to eat! By providing a variety of food, you will attract a variety of birds and insects to your backyard. Planting native flowers, shrubs and trees is the easiest way to provide the foliage, nectar, pollen, berries, seeds and nuts that many species of wildlife require to survive and thrive. You can also incorporate supplemental feeders and food sources. Click here for a list of NJA centers near you which can recommend plants that will be best for your specific space. NJA centers also offer sunflower seed grown in NJ.
2. Supply water for wildlife -- Wildlife needs clean water sources for several reasons: drinking, bathing and reproduction. Water sources may include natural features such as ponds; or human-made features such as bird baths, or puddling areas for butterflies, installed ponds or rain gardens.
3. Create cover for wildlife -- Wildlife requires places to hide in order to feel safe from people, predators and inclement weather. Use things like native vegetation, shrubs, thickets and brush piles or even dead trees.
4. Provide a place for wildlife to raise their young -- Just like you, wildlife need a sheltered place to raise their offspring. Many places for cover can double as locations where wildlife can raise young, from wildflower meadows and bushes where many butterflies and moths lay their eggs, or caves where bats roost and form colonies. Adding birdhouses is a wonderful way to enjoy wildlife in your yard. Click here for information on how to obtain birdhouses made from sustainable NJ wood.
5. Let your garden "go green" -- How you maintain your garden or landscape can have an important effect on the health of the soil, air, water and habitat for native wildlife--as well as the human community nearby. Reducing chemical use, composting, mulching and reducing turf grass in your yard are important steps to gardening greener.
Need some additional advise? Here are NJA's "Ten Tips" for creating a backyard habitat.
Ready? Click here for information from National Wildlife Federation on how to certify your newly created backyard habitat!
New Jersey Audubon (NJA) is proud to be the New Jersey affiliate of National Wildlife Federation, and enthusiastically supports gardening for wildlife and the NWF "Certify a Habitat" program.