For humans and wildlife alike, there are three main elements required in any living space: food, water, and shelter.
Although urban areas encroach on the habitat of wild creatures, it is possible to restore habitat as well. By creating places for wildlife in our own yards, we can contribute to a patchwork of urban green spaces that link together to form habitat corridors to different areas.
A backyard habitat is a space created in your garden specifically for wildlife, with their basic needs in mind.
One of the easiest ways to meet these needs is to incorporate native vegetation into your yard. Native plants are uniquely adapted to our mild climate, and are ideal for supporting native creatures.
Stroll through the Native Plant section of the Earthwise Garden to see some of the many beautiful native species that thrive in our local climate.
Here are some of our favourites:
Attract birds to your garden by planting the foods they like best and providing continuous food sources throughout the year. Early in the year, the nectar of Red Flowering Currant is essential to hummingbirds just beginning to migrate north again from Mexico. Additionally, the berries it produces in August stay on the branch late into the year, providing a good winter food source for birds.
Red Elderberry is a familiar site at the edge of woods, with its bright fleshy berries in early summer. The Cedar Waxwing appreciates its summer ripening fruit for feeding its hatchlings.
For late summer and fall food sources, Bunchberry and Coastal Strawberry are groundcovers bearing fruit in late summer, while Red Osier Dogwood, a shrub, has berries in the Fall.
In the Earthwise Garden, the Habitat Hedgerow demonstrates an attractive mixed planting of shrubs, trees and perennials with high habitat value suitable for urban gardens that will provide a long season of bloom.[/mantra-column]
Imitate nature in your garden by planting in layers: trees, understory shrubs, and a diversity of perennials encourages biodiversity by providing habitat for different species. Our native Sword Fern provides an ideal shelter for ground nesting birds such as Juncos, who feed heavily on insects and seeds of weeds. Native forest trees like Western Red Cedar are common places for sapsuckers to forage, and excellent nesting sites for Steller’s Jays.
Bird boxes, butterfly boxes, and mason bee houses also provide shelter. They should be placed somewhere in your yard where the animals can feel safe from predators. Try to leave an area of your garden undisturbed to encourage wild creatures to stay and use the resources you have provided them with.[/mantra-column]
Consider providing a source of water in your garden. Animals need water for drinking, bathing, cooling down, and cleaning food. The Earthwise Garden’s wildlife pond is a home for frogs, and attracts Goldfinches in the early summer. Ponds can be elaborate or as simple as an old oak barrel. Even a rock basin can capture and hold water. Whatever you choose, it is important to keep your water feature clean and fresh.[/mantra-column]