7 Bird and Butterfly Garden Essentials

Flowers and trees put on a great show and welcome birds and butterflies to your yard. These beautiful creatures are more than just nature on display. Learn how to draw them to your garden with the bird and butterfly garden essentials from our 2016 issue of <i>Green Side Up</i>.

butterflies

There are many reasons why you should welcome birds and butterflies into your garden. When butterflies flit from flower to flower, they're doing more than just taking in the smells—they're helping pollinate those plants. Also, diversity of insects, plants, and animals in your yard help maintain a good, naturally occurring ecosystem that's less prone to disease. Make your balcony or yard a better place for birds and butterflies by including the following:

1. Places to Hide

Cottage Garden

Birdhouses are a great place for birds to hang out, but so are trees and shrubs. Both birds and butterflies love fresh greenery. Bonus: Trees and shrubs also shelter insects, which make great food for birds.

2. Food

Sertoma Butterfly House and Marine Cove

It's better for birds and butterflies if you plant a variety of blooms, berries, and seeds and a range of plant types. Annuals, perennials, vines, and grasses are all favorable to birds and butterflies.

Best Berry Plants for Birds Best Grasses for Birds

3. Supplemental Food

birds

Bird feeders—filled with different food like black-oil sunflower, millet, and safflower—encourage a variety of birds to visit. If you start to fill feeders, don't stop—they come to depend on it. You also can try specialized options, such as hummingbird feeders.

What Birds Love:

  • Black-oil sunflower is widely available and beloved by many bird varieties.
  • Thistle seed, also called nyjer, is great for attracting finches but needs a bird feeder with small openings.
  • Seed mixes offer a whole bunch of seed types in one bag.
  • Suet, a mix of seed and fat, is great for colder climates and is served in a specialized cage.

Bird Feeding 101

4. Sun

Butterfly on a yellow flower

In general, butterflies feed only in the sun. Plant your choice of butterfly-friendly plants in sunny spots to get a picture-worthy butterfly turnout.

Plants That Keep Butterflies Happy

5. Resting Spots

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Birds' feet were made to perch, so why not give them the means to do so? Flat stones, perches in trees, and other such perches give both birds and butterflies spots to snooze out of the reach of potential predators.

See garden plans that attract birds and butterflies.

6. Water

bird bath

A splash pool—even just a slim pan with an inch of water and a little sand—can be a good spot for wildlife to bathe or get nutrients. Bonus points for a fountain that makes a wee bit of noise—a great attraction for birds and butterflies, too.

Here's a guide to water features in the landscape.

7. Nesting Spots and Boxes

Magnolia acuminata

Birds love burrowing into greenery. Trees, shrubs, and other sheltered areas as well as nesting boxes offer extra protection for birds.

Learn more about the grasses birds love.

What Birds and Butterflies DON'T Need

Country Gardens/Baille award winning garden/CMR#5478475

To keep butterflies and birds attracted to your garden, avoid chemicals, including insecticides. Avoiding these in your yard will keep flying friends healthy when they come to visit.

Attract Birds to Your Backyard

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