Attract your winged friends with their favorite foods.
Birds love natural gardens because they can find all they need to survive in them. Seed heads of perennials and ornamental grasses provide food. Shrubs, trees, and some perennials offer shelter and nesting places. A birdbath contains water for drinking and bathing. You, meanwhile, gain the benefit of natural pest control because many birds eat hundreds of insects daily.
When you plan a natural wildlife garden, include a diverse selection of plants -- trees, shrubs, grasses, perennials, and annuals that reseed. Birds and other wildlife won't care if you have the latest cultivars; in fact, they prefer species and older varieties. Look for plants indigenous to your area, because they will look the most natural in it.
Build a Handmade BirdbathSurround your built-in birdbathwith bird-friendly plants.
This special handmade birdbath belongs nestled in a flower bed where admirers will never know that it was so easy to make. You don't need a fancy mold to fashion the 18- to 20-inch basin. You can even use a cardboard box instead of the ground, as long as the box is at least 4 inches wider than the basin's width. Fill it 10 inches deep with soil; then scoop a basin shape in the soil.
What You Need:
- Hoe or shovel
- Protective gear -- rubber gloves, safety glasses, dust mask
- Spray bottle and water
- 3 gallons premixed concrete
- Peat moss
- Crushed, colored, recycled glass
- Rock specimens
- Sheet of plastic
Plant a Butterfly GardenAttract butterflies by planting afew perennials and shrubsfor their larval needs andnectar preferences.
Butterflies need the warmth of the sun and appreciate a flat stone or two for basking. You will see them gather in groups if you provide a shallow puddle where they can drink. Protect them from strong winds with a garden near a few shrubs or trees that act as a windbreak.
You can incorporate butterfly plants into an existing bed or border or plant a separate garden. To a butterfly, fragrance is not as important as color, although it does play a role. The eyes of a butterfly perceive shades of yellow, red, and blue to lavender. The best flowering plants for a butterfly garden are wild or species forms rather than hybrids, single-flowered instead of double-flowered, and tubular or flat-topped. Plant in large groups; individual spots of color are less attractive than a broad wash of hues. Groups of 10 or more of the same color work well.
Beebalm and purple coneflower are two of the best plants for attracting butterflies. Plant groups of them around a weather fountain, and shelter the garden with a backdrop of evergreens.
Other butterfly-friendly plants include anise hyssop, black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, coreopsis, dianthus, garden phlox, Queen Anne's lace, red valerian, thyme, and vervain.