Turn Your Back Yard into a Wildlife Habitat
How can you create an organic eco-friendly garden that attracts birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects? All the elements in your yard or garden depend on each other to create a perfect balance of nature. Remember to grow plants that suit your local conditions, and to stay away from any chemicals. As gardener, you have the ability to create harmony rather than disturbing the balance of nature. Here are some products and ideas to get you started. The basics? Soil, water, plants, birds and butterflies, and pests must all be in harmony.
Electronic Soil Tester
Good soil is the foundation of a flourishing garden. More depth of soil holds more water and each plant has enough water to be healthy and resistant to pests and disease. Add organic matter (compost) such as grass clippings, decaying plants, fall leaves, vegetable scraps. This provides food and habitat for beneficial insects and microorganisms. The proper pH balance is also critical for controlling pests and plant disease. Test soil frequently with the Electric Garden Soil Testing Kit and correct the soil pH if needed. A pH of 6.5 is considered a normal level for plants. Available at www.cleanairgardening.com.
Lawn Aerator Shoes
Grass is the only plant that we walk on, and this causes the soil under the grass to become compacted and less healthy. Lawn aerating shoes revitalize hard compacted soils. Aerating the soil allows air, water and nutrients to reach the root system for a healthier lawn. The spikes on the shoes open up the soil and expose the roots to the air they need. Wear them while you mow! Available at www.cleanairgardening.com.
Country Pump and Barrel Fountain Kit
The wildlife (birds, butterflies) in your organic garden need clean water. A healthy pond offers an aquatic ecosystem, so add fish, plants, and frogs. (Include snails to reduce any algae in the water.) The Country Pump and Barrel Fountain Kit is an inexpensive way to create a small pond for your garden. It has a country-style water pump that creates a stream of water into the cedar barrel. Available at www.pondappeal.com.
58-Gallon Rain Barrel
Collecting rain water is an efficient method to conserve tap water yet have plenty of hydration available for your garden. Watering for longer durations and less frequently encourages deep rooting of plants. This plastic rain barrel is recycled, so you can feel good about helping the global environment while beautifying your garden. How many rain barrels might you need? One-inch of rain on a 1000 sq ft roof yields 625 gallons of water. Available at www.cleanairgardening.com.
Classic Cypress Bird House/ Nesting House
This nesting box (bird house) offers a safe place for birds to raise their young. This bird house is made of untreated wood-no chemicals. Inspire birds to flock to your garden. Create a natural balance-instead of using pesticides, offer birds the opportunity to take care of any pests. (Chicadees devour insects and English sparrows love to dine on mosquitoes.) To encourage birds to visit your garden, they need a nesting place, but also plants that provide them with seeds and fruits all year round. Available at www.cleanairgardening.com.
Copper Hanging/Standing Bird Bath
Don't forget the water! Birds will need more than shelter and food-a beautiful bird bath for water. This copper bird bath can either hang or be placed on its stand. The basin is 2 inches deep. Available at www.backyardstyle.com.
White Flower Farm Flowers and Shrubs
Buy the plants that your birds need to feast and be healthy. Plant fruit and seeds and shrubs-goldenrod, purple coneflower ($17), asters, bachelor's buttons, snapdragons, black currants, elderberry, or blackberry bushes. White Flower Farm is a family-owned business in Connecticut and will ship anywhere in the country. Attract butterflies to your garden with these plants: honeysuckle vines, bleeding hearts, columbine, yarrow, asters ($12), sweet pea, coneflower, chrysanthemum, Shasta daisy, violets, bee balm, lilac, English lavender. Available at www.whiteflowerfarm.com.
Instead of using harsh chemicals that destroy the delicate balance of your garden ecosystem, allow lacewings to do the pest control for you. Lacewings eat hundreds of bugs and their eggs. Their favorites are aphids, mites, mealybugs, scale insects and some moths and caterpillars, moth eggs, and whiteflies. In return for their good work, grow the kinds of plants that the good insects find attractive, such as yarrow, Queen Anne's lace, and marigolds. Available at: www.arbico-organics.com.
Why not provide a lovely home for your ladybugs? The ladybug loft is the perfect location where ladybugs can spy on the insects and swoop down on them. Ladybugs will do you the favor of keeping aphids and other insects from disrupting your garden. This is another natural, chemical-free way to keep your garden in balance. You can also purchase ladybugs with the ladybug loft. Available at www.cleanairgardening.com.