Bring the Critters! How to attract beneficial bugs, birds and butterflies to your yard.
As you know by now, our magazine's mission is to give Atlanta homeowners timely advice, from smart local experts. Advice on how to improve your home, inside and out.
Especially out!! Especially this week. Because now that Snowpocalypse is – hopefully – behind us, we are in the mood to think Spring.
We're thinking spring, greenery, flowers, gardens, your own backyard. (A.K.A. Pollen-ocalypse)
So today we turn to Holly Brooks, a principal of King Landscaping. She's got some great tips on how to make sure that when the spring hits, you don't just have glorious color and fragrance. You have some helpful, cute critters moving in. Here's Holly to tell you how…
The best way to create a backyard habitat for birds, butterflies, bats, and other small animals is by providing a host garden for the insects. Many birds that frequent backyards will not eat seeds, but they will eat insects and fruit.
A host garden is a safe place where insects can over-winter, lay their eggs, and feed. To do all of those things you need to supply woody stem structures such as those found on ornamental grasses and small shrubs for winter housing. Rosemary, Oregano, and butterfly bush (Buddlia) are great plant choices.
Since butterflies mainly feed on nectar, include flowers in your yard that produce nectar. Generally single-petal flowers are better for this than doubles and triples.
Also ensure that blooms are available from early spring to late fall by planting two to three plants of each variety grouped together in your garden. Some early bloomers are phlox, astilbe, and spring bulbs. Mid-summer bloomers, like butterfly weed, hardy varieties of Lantana, Bee balm, and Daisy, draw insects and hummingbirds alike. Late summer blooming Salvia, Sages. and Black-Eyed Susan will keep insects and birds fed into the fall months.
Many edibles make great host plants for insects and caterpillars too, including dill, fennel, blueberries, tomatoes, and blackberries. If we like to eat it, so will the wildlife.
To attract a wide range of animals to your wildlife refuge, you also need a water source. Birdbaths attract birds, frogs, and other amphibians. Dripping hoses or shallow dishes of water invite reptiles, butterflies, and other small animals.
Bat houses, bird houses, bird feeders, and shallow pools of water -especially those with muddy edges – will add to your year-round wildlife habitat. But it all starts with the insects. A healthy bug population will facilitate the rest.
So about how you? What are your favorite bugs, birds or animals to host in your own backyard?
To find out more about Holly Brooks and King Landscaping, please visit www.erickinglandscaping.com