Sometimes it’s as important to know what ‘not to do’ as it is what ‘to do’ in the wildlife garden. With that thought in mind, here’s some simple tips wildlife, if they could speak, would pass along to people:
- Do not surround your properties with fences.We have a hard enough time moving around and finding food. Plus, we get snagged and separated from our young.
- Do not rake your leaves or pick up your sticks. We hide and feed in the leaf litter, and it creates new top soil.
- Do not plant bamboo and other non-native plants that displace our native plant food sources.
- Do not kill native vines like poison ivy, virginia creeper, and native grape vine. They provide us with important food.
- Do not dead-head your native perennials. Their seeds provide us with food in the winter.
- Do not plant bulbs like daffodil, tulip, snow drop, and crocus. None are native and they do us no good. Correction: There are native bulbs, such as Native Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum), Turk’s Cap Lily (Liliium superbum), Canada Lily (Lilium canadense) , Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum), Atamasco Lily (Zephyranthes atamasca )…any others. If you include corms and bulb-like rhizomes (which most folks do not differentiate from bulbs), there are lots more including our Trilliums (Trillium sp.), Blazing Stars (Liatris sp.) and many others.
- Do not trap and kill us, even if we’re not your favorite creatures. We may look different and have undeserved reputations (snakes, bats, mice, raccoons, groundhogs, opossum, coyote, etc) but we all provide important ecosystem services.
- Do not take down dead trees, called ‘snags’. They provide vital cavities for nesters and perches for many species, including predatory birds.
- Do not use plastic erosion control netting. We get caught in it.
- Do not worry so much about aesthetics. Pretend you’re us when you plan your gardens. We’ll reward you with our presence.
- Do not give your wildlife ponds steep slopes. We can’t get out easily and often drown.
- Do not mow more often than you have to. Mowers cut us and lawns provide us no benefit. Meadows and shrublands are great alternatives and provide us with food and cover.
- Do not let other people dissuade you from following these tips. (Better yet, perhaps you have a simple tip to add in the comment section below.) Local township ordinances need to change if we are to survive.
© 2013, Christina Kobland. All rights reserved. This article is the property of Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.