Benjamin Vogt: How to Garden for Wildlife

New post on Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens

How to Garden for Wildlife

by Benjamin Vogt

I was working on a handout for a presentation, and as I went along I realized just how much I’ve learned in the five years that I’ve had a garden–and not all of those was I aware that I was gardening for wildlife, and what I could yet do. So I want to share the refresher, and please do add or take away in your comments as you see fit. (All of the images are from my prairie-esque Nebraska garden.)

Main back garden just before it hit 22 degrees. Yes, much wildlife shelters here in all 4 seasons.

1) Never use chemicals of any kind.

2) Use native plants. Plant thickly to conserve water and kill weeds.

3) Have a water feature.

Never have I seen so many birds at the fountain this year. 2.5″ of rain in the last four months.

4) Garden for insects – they are the base of the food chain & all life. (Ex. birds only feed insects to their young.)

5) Embrace bees and wasps – they’re too busy pollinating to sting. Honest!

6) Spiders, preying mantis, and other predator bugs are signs of a healthy garden and kill pests FAST. Love them.

That wasp was so intent on nectaring, it missed something.

7) Don’t cut down or “clean up” the garden in fall, wait until early March.

8) Use the spring cut down as mulch and to create bee houses (I cut hollow joy pye weed stalks into 6″ lengths, bundle, and tie to the fence for mason bees).

9) Fall leaves are free soil—they’ll break down over winter & be warm homes for hibernating insects.

Liatris mucronata and indian grass.

10) Diversity – grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, trees.

11) Diversity II – groundcovers, short plants, tall plants, big blooms, tiny blooms… create a varied habitat for 4 seasons of life.

A skipper on eupatorium altissimum.

12) Host plants for butterflies: milkweed, zizia, baptisia, wild senna, side oats grama, willow, elm, oak.

13) Fave nectar plants: milkweed, aster, joy pye weed, mountain mint, ironweed, culver’s root, goldenrod, coneflowers, baptisia.

Signs of a healthy garden, and a child’s playground.

Benjamin Vogt | October 9, 2012 at 9:25 am | Categories: Native Plants, Pollinators,Sustainable Landscaping, Wildlife Garden, Wildlife Management | URL:

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