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House with native plants and animalsGoing Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants
Home > Create Your Own Native Landscape > Step Three-Design Landscape > Design to Meet Wildlife Needs

Design to Meet Wildlife Needs

Refer back to your Step One – Identifying Wildlife Needs Worksheet and use a copy of your base map to decide which areas are best suited for providing the habitat needs of your target wildlife and mark those areas with bubbles or circles. Remember to provide areas for the food, cover, nesting, and water that your target species needs. You may wish to designate relative heights of plants to ensure that a diversity of vertical structure is included in the habitat. These areas will eventually be combined with your family needs analysis into the overall design. Try out different layouts by generating a series of bubble diagrams that explore a variety of options. Sample Base Map with Wildlife Needs.

Click below for more information on identifying the needs of native wildlife.

Whether you want to attract songbirds, hummingbirds, or butterflies to your yard, here are several general principles that will help your design be successful.

Promote Plant Diversity – It is important to include a diversity of native plants. Include late-blooming and early-blooming plants, early-fruiting and late-fruiting plants, evergreen and deciduous plants, and tall and short plants in the landscape. Plant diversity provides for habitat needs in all seasons and provides food and cover alternatives within a season.

Cluster or Mass Plantings – Clustered plantings of the same species or plantings with similar blooming or fruiting periods will allow wildlife easy access to food sources without excessive movement and increased exposure to predators.

Mimic Nature – Create tiers and layers in your landscape that mimic the way that plants grow together in natural areas.

Love Your Weeds – Leave a portion of your yard or garden un-mowed or un-manicured to promote fruit and seed production, especially during late summer, fall, and winter. Locate these areas in small corners of your yard where neighbors will be less likely to see the “weedy” growth.

Minimize Lawn – Lawn grasses require frequent use of water, fertilizer, and pesticides that can be harmful to the environment. Manicured lawns are monocultures that offer very little in terms of wildlife habitat.

Maintain Viewing Areas – Plan viewing areas by mapping wildflower beds, fruit-producing plants, and bird feeders in sight of windows and paths. To help prevent window strikes by birds, feeders should be placed < 3 feet from windows or at least 30 feet from windows.

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