Thursday, January 21, 2010

NWF's Gardening For Wildlife Guide!

These days most people landscape their yard according to whatever is available at their local Home Depot or Lowe's plant department... some people go to their local nursery too but don't realize they are buying all exotic plants which contribute to an imbalance in our ecosystem. Even in an urban area we can cater our gardens to feed, house and promote wildlife by taking some simple steps that just so happen to make your gardens beautiful too! The trick is to buy native plants for your garden and use sustainable food growing practices to reduce damage to the earth - native plants from your region already naturally thrive in the area making it resistant to drought, more hardy, and they tend to not wilt and die as often as store bought exotics (meaning you waste less $$$). Not to mention those exotic will attract exotic bugs - leading an uneducated gardener to grab insecticides to solve the problem, causing a further problem with their soil quality and thus beginning the endless cycle of sick plants being sprayed with chemicals.

Here is the National Wildlife Federation's Guide to Native Gardening (when you get your garden really going good you can have your property certified as a wildlife habitat!!!)

Provide Food for Wildlife

Everyone needs to eat! Planting native forbs, 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.

Supply Water for Wildlife

Wildlife need clean water sources for many purposes, including drinking, bathing and reproduction. Water sources may include natural features such as ponds, lakes, rivers, springs, oceans and wetlands; or human-made features such as bird baths, puddling areas for butterflies, installed ponds or rain gardens.

Create Cover for Wildlife

Wildlife require 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.

Give Wildlife a Place to Raise Their Young

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.

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.

Ready...Set...Certify!

Once you have provided these essential elements to make a healthy and sustainable wildlife habitat, join the thousands of wildlife enthusiasts across the country who have earned the distinction of being part of NWF's Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program.

***The above guide was written by the NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION***

FYI: I have gotten 2 properties certified and helped get two others certified also by neighbors in Western North Carolina... looking forward to doing another! Super fun and super earthy project for anyone who loves nature. Yay! :)

XOXOXoxoo

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