DIY





Using Native Plants to Attract Wildlife

Learn how swapping out the foreign plant species in your backyard for some native varieties can attract more wildlife to your yard.

| April 2018

Attracting Wildlife to Your Backyard (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018) by Josh VanBrakle presents 101 projects to help make your backyard more attractive to wildlife. Whether it be in the age of your plants and trees, or in the structure of your gardens, VanBrakle can help you design a yard to attract any of your favorite wild creatures. In the following excerpt, he explains why replacing non-native plants with native plants can help bring more wildlife to your yard.

If you want to attract more wildlife to your backyard, one of your primary tasks should be to replace the non-native plants growing there with native varieties. Why? It all comes down to the first wildlife needs: food.

In the modern backyard, food is the life need that’s usually in shortest supply. Most animals, particularly insects, can’t eat the non-native ornamental plants many of us grow. Each type of plant has developed its own chemical mix to discourage plant-eaters from chewing on it. Native plant-eaters have adapted to certain chemicals from certain plants, and as a result they can only eat those plants. Put something that originated in Europe or Asia in front of them, and they can’t eat it, even if they’re starving. In turn, the animals that eat those plant-eaters, like songbirds, won’t stick around your property.

Native plants also matter for another crucial and disappearing wildlife category: pollinators. These are creatures like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds that eat nectar from flowers. When they feed on nectar, pollinators transfer pollen from flower to flower, allowing plants to reproduce.



We depend on pollinators for more than the mere enjoyment of seeing wildlife. An astonishing 87 percent of flowering plant species rely on pollinators to help them reproduce. Lose the pollinators, and you lose those plants.

And pollinators are in trouble. There’s a real danger that in the not too distant future, we could lose many of these amazing creatures. The population of our most important pollinators, bees, have declined sharply in recent decades. They’ve been the victims of habitat loss, overuse of pesticides, and Colony Collapse Disorder, a still poorly understood situation in which entire colonies of bees die.

WendyeLou
5/2/2018 8:03:46 PM

The very reason I planted natives is to attract the wildlife. Also a concern for our pussycats that they don't chew on/eat poisonous plants. We have some beautiful plants here in Australia. I especially love the bottlebrush. I love that the bottlebrush flower is actually very soft to the touch when it looks like it'd hard.







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