Attracting the Wildlife You Want

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On the days I get to sit back and enjoy my garden (instead of working at the nursery to help you with yours!) one of the big rewards is getting to see the ecosystems my garden supports in my little patch of the world.

There’s nothing like sitting on your patio, feeling the sun on your back and watching butterflies floating around your shrubs, bees collecting pollen from your flowers, and hummingbirds filling up from your feeders.

Besides bringing buzz and birdsong into your yard, these pollinator-friendly gardens allow you to help Mother Earth. We’ve all heard about bee colony collapse and anything you do to help bees helps all of us. (It’s estimated that bees and their power of pollination are responsible for about a third of the food we eat).

But your garden might also attract animals that will wind up feasting in your veggie patch and stomping on your blooms. Yep, I’m looking at you, Bambi and Thumper.

Here’s what I do to attract the wildlife I love – and keep out those animals that might damage my flowers and veggies:

  • Bird feeders. Nothing says “come on by” better than free food. Suet, seed and sugar water keep my backyard filled with lovely feathered friends. I also have a water feature with running water that the birds seem to love.
  • Layered plantings. By layering your plants, you give little critters more safe spaces from creatures that might prey on them. It also allows them to go from plant to plant without expending too much energy.
  • Pollinators favorites. My garden is full of Dianthus, Catmint, and Monarda and these are very popular with the bee and butterfly set.

I’m fortunate in that my home has fencing, so I don’t get rabbits and deer. However, there are deer resistant plants and shrubs you can plant, and you might want to use a repellent spray to keep away the mammals likely to feast on your flora.

  • Deer shy away from some plants because they are actually poisonous to them (think daffodils and foxglove), while others just “stink” as far as they are concerned, such as ornamental salvia, lavender and peonies.
  • Rabbits are pretty voracious, but tend not to like gardens with: daffodils, lavender, lilac bushes, marigolds, zinnias and snapdragons.
  • Groundhogs also don’t like lavender along with many, many herbs (basil, sage, chives, rosemary, mint and oregano).

Unfortunately, nothing seems to keep the squirrels away – which is one of the reasons I’m really happy I have a dog. 🙂

With careful planning and a little prep, you’ll be able to share your backyard with the wildlife you want – and keep those garden destroyers out of your yard.

Happy Gardening,
Misti Warner-Andersen