One of the great joys of gardening is the abundance of wildlife that comes into our landscape with the plants we put in the ground. There isn’t anything more natural than making your garden available for wildlife with plants that can survive in harsh environments. While many people think the plants don’t look as well as ordinary plants, everything is in the design.
Attracting wildlife to the landscape, unfortunately, is not that complicated issue, it just takes a little forethought in the planning and arrangement of plants, and the selection of plant material that you put in the landscape. So, everything matters if you are looking for pure nature in your garden.
One thing about wildlife is that different species feel most comfortable or at home at different layers within the vegetative structure. For example, you have some species that are very comfortable in the canopy of trees. Others are more comfortable at the ground layer. So, when we have an arrangement with tall trees next to shrubs next to dense ground cover, we are providing habitat for multiple types of wildlife.
Within a habitat, all wildlife need three basic things, they need cover, they need a source of food and a reliable source of water. If you can provide those three things, you will have the key elements to attract wildlife to a backyard garden. Depending on what kind of landscape design in Pasadena you want, there are many companies that can provide you with everything you need.
When we look at the structure from top to bottom, we will have first the tall trees. But, you need much time to grow them, so we are going to cover some of the lower trees that can be handled.
A good example for trees you can use is dogwood or deciduous holly, American holly. Those are great understory plants, great canopy include things like oaks, heck berries, pecan, ash trees, sweet gum. All of those provide seeds or fruit up of the ground as well as a lot of leaf material that has insects that birds eat.
The next layer down we would have shrubs, and the perfect choice would be something like beautyberry, and some buck brush and both of those produce berries that the birds eat as well as having a dense cover. These can also be the plants that the birds can nest in. Cardinals and mockingbirds are usually nesting lower to ground.
Read more about them here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrub
Closer to the ground we have more options to choose from. The Salvia or some ornamental grasses can be a great choice. A lot of perennial flowers are great sources of cover and food. One that people usually pick is Asters because they have a wonderful purple color and dense structure. Also, they have flowers that attract insects and those flowers are followed by seeds which create a whole new source of food, maybe for juncos and doves.
Another nice understory plant is the Carolina buckthorn. It produces red to purple berries in the fall that are eaten by mockingbirds, robins, bluebirds, all kinds of birds love it, and it is a great nesting spot as well. Carolina cherry laurel is an evergreen, so it is going to have a cover year-round, particularly in winter time when birds need it the most. There are a lot of websites where you can learn about plants to the detail.
A lot of people like to use grass being the main plant for backyards. Mexican feather grass isn’t that much great for birds but it works great for toads, lizards, box turtles that live in the landscape. But, they do produce seed that the juncos and doves will feed on in the winter time.
Because everyone needs a lot of flowers for their landscape, we included some red-hot poker too. For wildlife, color is very important if we are looking to attract birds and smaller animals. Gaillardia is a nectar plant that always attracts butterflies. Grape Holly fruit ripens during the summertime, so when birds are nesting it is a great food source. Read more about it here. It is very important to have these kinds of plants so wildlife will stay here for a long time.
The last thing that you will need for your landscape is of course water. You can have one birdbath, some standing pot of water, but moving water also is a benefit because the sound it makes attracts insects and smaller animals.