It’s simple to turn your backyard, no matter the size, into a home for birds, butterflies and other forms of small wildlife just by providing certain native plants and water sources. It’s an easy way to learn the basics of nature appreciation and finding ways to peacefully coexist with wildlife

1. Flowering annuals (plants that live one growing season) and perennials (plants that live for more than a year) add color to your yard and can be added at any stage to attract birds and butterflies. If your yard is large, consider using part of it for tall native grasses that provide beauty, as well as a natural source of food and shelter.

2. Butterflies are most active during the day and will benefit from a basking site where they can warm up on cool mornings. Add a light-colored rock or concrete garden sculpture as a basking site.

3. Toads, frogs, lizards, turtles, and snakes all have a place in the backyard and shelter for these creatures is easy to provide. Several rocks piled in a sunny spot will provide basking sites. Consider planting shade-tolerant groundcovers under trees and leaving a thick layer of leaves to provide cool shelter.

4. Clean, fresh water is as important to birds, bats, butterflies, and other wildlife as it is for people. Water in a saucer, bird bath, or backyard pond is adequate for wildlife. Be sure to change the water every few days to keep it fresh.

5. Skip the pesticides….avoid using any sort of chemical treatment on your lawn, like fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides since these are particularly harmful to animals as well as children. Opt for organic lawn care instead. You can also read our article from Action Line about organic lawn care and the health risks of pesticides.

6. Be friendly to bees! Choose native wildflowers with blossoms of varying sizes and shapes in bee-friendly colors (blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow), and select plants with varied bloom times to support different bee species.

7. Leave dead and dying trees, when possible. They attract woodpeckers, owls, wrens and insects for food.Wildlife must have safe places where they are free from danger and bad weather and can raise their offspring. Most animals find shelter in trees or shrubs. Leaf litter and dead branches provide shelter for insects and amphibians. Dense vegetation provides buffers between wildlife habitat and busy areas such as driveways. If possible, designate a special area of your yard for wildlife.

8. ALWAYS find humane solutions to any issues that may arise with wildlife. Be sure to take preventive measures to ensure that conflicts don’t arise between you and other animals. Use animal-proof trash bins if necessary, humane traps to catch and release animals in your home and peacefully observe wildlife from a safe distance. Encouraging your neighbors to do adopt the same practices will also greatly enhance your yard’s appeal to wildlife as well since a larger area of protected space will attract more animals.