Wildlife Habitats

How to create and nurture habitats for animals.

Conduct a Habitat Assessment

If you want to enhance wildlife habitat, assessing the existing vegetation with some basic questions is a good place to start. For example:

  • Is it mostly lawn, bark chips, and non-native thirsty shrubs?
  • Is it mostly weedy growth such as ivy and blackberry covering who knows what?
  • Are there native shrubs and trees?
  • Can that hollow old tree be safely maintained?

The relationship of the property to surrounding land is also important:

  • Does that adjacent creek or wetland raise the water table?
  • Are the tall trees to the south casting heavy shade, or alternatively,
  • Is the yard dry and baked to the south because of no shade?

Provide Food and Cover

Wildlife need food and cover; plantings can provide both.

Native plant species can be important to many local species of birds, mammals, insects, and other animals.

The arrangement of the vegetation in layers (groundcovers and rough areas, shrubs, small and large trees) as well as retention and maintenance of existing trees with defects can be very important.

This does not mean that non-natives have no role. Some are quite attractive to wildlife, and the function of large non-native trees in providing cover, shade, and nesting cavities is not quickly replaced with newly planted natives.

Maximizing the Environment

For maximum attractiveness to wildlife, some areas of “rough” are needed; for example:

  • A meadow cut once a year
  • A forest floor of leaf litter, dead twigs and branches left to decay
  • Perennial beds that are not mulched with bark chips or plastic, but are spread with compost and have deadheads left on plants for cover and food in the winter

The addition of a water feature (or retention of a seasonally wet area with native plants) will greatly increase wildlife use.

 

Braun Arboricultural Consulting  (541) 806-0347