If you want to turn your backyard into wildlife habitat, you can.
All wildlife requires three elements to survive: food, water and shelter. But a toad’s needs for each differ from those of a blue jay or a butterfly or a rabbit. You can attract the greatest variety and number of wildlife by providing a variety of sources of food, water and shelter. Diverse habitat supports diverse wildlife. Planting an assortment of trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses will provide alternatives for food and shelter. You can meet wildlife’s critical water needs by maintaining a bird bath or by constructing a small pool. Add feeders and nest boxes to provide more food and shelter.
Create an edge by planting trees and shrubs around open areas. An edge is where vegetation borders an open area. Edges attract more wildlife than an area solely of cover or open land.
It’s easy to get free advice about which plants are best suited to the soil, moisture and sunlight conditions on your property. Contact your county extension office and the Missouri Department of Conservation at mdc.mo.gov. Nurseries can also be very helpful.
Your good backyard habitat will be a haven for wildlife. And it will also be a quiet retreat for you.
The Missouri Prairie Foundation wants to help you protect and restore biodiversity by increasing your conservation awareness. Why should you use native plants?
- Native plants originally occur within a region as the result of natural processes rather than human intervention.
- In Missouri and surrounding states, native plants are species that have existed since prior to the time of wide-spread European settlement a little more than 200 years ago. While the activities of indigenous people did affect the region’s ecosystems, it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that large-scale habitat alteration and the introduction of non-native plants began to significantly change the natural landscape of the Midwest.
- Native plant species in the Midwest have evolved here over the millennia and are best adapted to the region’s climate and soil conditions. Even more importantly, native plant species have co-evolved with native insect species and provide important food resources for thousands of species of invertebrates that in turn provide food for native birds and other animals. Choosing native plants in developed landscapes allows them to coexist with nature, rather than compete with it.
- The benefits of native landscaping are fueling a gardening movement that says “no” to pesticides and fertilizers and “yes” to biodiversity and creating more sustainable landscapes. Novice and professional gardeners are turning to native landscaping to manage storm water, reduce maintenance, and promote plant and wildlife conservation.
Source: Missouri Prairie Foundation