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S Landscaping One Acre For Wildlife For more nature habitat information A Plant's Home Visit these helpful websites: A Bird's Home A Homesteader's Home

ince you are reading this, you are probably concerned about the challenges facing wildlife today. There are many threats to species survival, including loss of habitat from development, the overuse of pesticides, and formal landscaping that offers little in the way of cover or food for birds and animals.

Four Elements Wildlife has four essential needs: food, water, cover, and space. Evaluate your yard and note which needs are already being met, and which ones you want to add. A simple sketch of your property will be very helpful. In addition to existing structures and natural features, make a note of your soil conditions, amount of sunlight, how much rainfall you usually receive, the direction of the prevailing winds, and what climate zone you live in. Your local Cooperative Extension Service can be very helpful in obtaining this information. Also take time to think about your personal interests. Do you want to enhance a certain view. Take

If you are lucky enough to have an acre of land around your home, how do you begin to enhance your property for wildlife.

Š WindStar Wildlife Institute

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A Plant's Home


photos. Have a play area for children. The plan’s selections rely heavily on “native" plants because experience has shown that they are best-suited for the wildlife with which they have evolved. These plants also tend to be hardier and less dependent on chemicals than more exotic species.

Some are low and can be walked on, like thyme (Thymus vulgaris) or Corsican mint (Mentha requienii). Others fill an area with more texture and height, such as juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia).

Native grasses are also excellent choices for larger areas, providing food and cover as well as all-season interest. Our habitat plan includes panic grass (Panicum dichotomiflorum), but there are many others including buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides),

One Acre Habitat Design

However, there are also many non-native choices which are good for wildlife, and your final landscape should reflect what is pleasing to you. Although they aren’t commonly used by the average person today, the Latin names of plants are included to avoid confusion. "Popular" names can vary greatly for the same plant, and you will have more success researching and buying exactly what you want if you can refer to the scientific name. For most people, “space" brings to mind open areas, frequently carpeted with green lawn. While mowed grass can make a pleasant frame around a house, it is of little value to wildlife and should be limited. Less lawn will also mean less dependence on herbicides and less work and expense for you. Groundcovers offer many alternatives to traditional lawn, and often work more effectively on difficult sites. They can supply benefits to wildlife and visual interest to the landscape.

© WindStar Wildlife Institute

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A Plant's Home


little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), and Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis humenoides). The trees shown in our plan were chosen for their value to wildlife as well as their beauty.

The willow oaks (Quercus phellos) and pin oak (Q. palustris) will produce acorns for a variety of animals and fall color for you. The black gum (Nyssa sylvatica) and sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) also offer autumn color as well as

RECOMMENDED PLANTS The following suggested plants are a very small sampling of possibilities. For additional suggestions, consult guidebooks, a nature center or extension service, local nurseries, or the Internet. GROUND COVERS

Sedum spp. Stonecrop .............................................. Picea pungens Dwarf spruce......................................... Cotoneaster ..........................................C. horizontalis Vinca spp. Periwinkle ................................................. Convallaria majalis Lily-of-the-Valley .................................. Sweet woodruff ....................................Galium odoratum SHRUBS

Cornus racemosa Gray dogwood ....................................... Ilex verticillata Winterberry ............................................ Osmanthus americanus Autumn olive.......................................... Viburnum prunifolium Blackhaw ................................................ Southern bayberry .............................. Myrica cerifera Rosa plaustris Wild rose ................................................. Raspberries and blackberries

fruit for wildlife. Other large trees with changing foliage and food value are the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), and hackberry (Celtis occidentalis).

Group Evergreens

Evergreen trees, especially when planted in groups, provide excellent winter cover for wildlife and, when positioned correctly, a windbreak for your property. The seeds supply food for birds, and evergreens add color and structure to the landscape after deciduous trees have lost their leaves. Our plan has stands of white pine (Pinus strobus) and red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) along the property line in several places. As in nature, you will be most successful in attracting a variety of wildlife – and find that the view is most pleasing to the eye – if you concentrate on diversity. As you choose plants, include a range of heights, shapes, bloom times, seeds and fruits, evergreen and deciduous species. This will ensure that there are lots of natural nesting sites plus food and cover throughout the year.

FAVORITE FLOWERS FOR HUMMINGBIRDS AND BUTTERFLIES:

Lantana camara Lantana .................................................. Cosmos sulphureus Cosmos ................................................... Pentas lanciolata Pentas ..................................................... Eupatorium spp. Joe-Pye weed......................................... Echinacea purpurea Purple coneflower ................................. Butterfly weed ......................................Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly bush ......................................Buddleia Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal flower ...................................... Monarda didyma Bee balm ................................................. Scarlet sage .........................................Salvia coccinea

© WindStar Wildlife Institute

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Food and Flowers

With the intention of varying heights, a number of smaller trees are included in our sample landscape. There are many types of apples and crabapples from which to choose, all of which will give you lovely spring flowers as well as fruit. Birds will delight in the berries of

A Plant's Home


sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), mulberry (Morus rubra), and mountain ash (Sorbus americana). Shrubs create still other levels in the landscape, and ours have been chosen primarily for the berries that they produce. Some will persist into winter to provide valuable coldweather food for wildlife. Vines are another valuable resource for berries, nectar, and nesting sites. Grapes are shown covering an arbor, but if you have a fence, dead trees, or trellises you can attract hummingbirds with coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), yellow jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens), or cross vine (Bignonia capreolata). When it comes to flowers, the choices are nearly limitless. Depending on the amount of time that you want to spend on your garden, you can choose annuals, which die back in winter, or perennials which come back every year. Many flowers are especially attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, while others have seedheads that will attract songbirds.

Try Wildflowers One of the best ways to attract a variety of wildlife is to plant a wildflower meadow, especially if you include native warm season grasses. There are seed mixtures for every climate zone, and you will be amazed by the changing picture of color

© WindStar Wildlife Institute

“A good hollow tree is almost worth its weight in wildlife and is a resource well worth preserving." – Roger Holmes Natural Gardening

and movement that a meadow provides. Since wildflower meadows are mowed only once a year, be sure that there are no zoning restrictions where you live. Adding paths, fences, and benches to the "wilder" part of a landscape can make it look more groomed and acceptable to neighbors used to a manicured yard. Growing your own vegetables is satisfying on many levels. There is joy in working a garden that produces fresh food for your family.

"By paying more attention to how nature does things, we can enrich our gardens with some of the grace and endurance of wild places while being kinder to the environment and less wasteful of nature’s resources and our own efforts." – Roger Holmes Natural Gardening

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If you devote part of that space to sunflowers (Helianthus), you will delight birds of all kinds. Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) and goldenrod (Solidago) also have seedheads that will attract feathered visitors to your yard.

Set Up Feeding Station When planning for birds, save space for feeders of different kinds and place them at different heights. Black oil sunflower seed is the favorite all-around food, but there are other types of seed and nectars that are also popular. There are many field guides available in your library or bookstore that can provide information on the birds that you want to attract, as well as other wildlife and the plants that grow in your backyard habitat. Many birds have specific nesting requirements, so nest boxes should be built for a particular species and mounted appropriately. With the decline in natural nesting cavities, these boxes are important. Bluebirds in particular have been brought back from a severe decline in numbers by the increase in man-made nest boxes.

Dirt is Good Adding grit and dust areas nearby may not sound very

A Plant's Home


glamorous, but both elements are necessary for birds and will be appreciated. Always be sure to provide a tree within 5' to 15' of a house or feeder so that the birds can escape predators. To cut down on annoying flying insects, add a bat house to your plan. These flying mammals consume huge numbers of mosquitoes. Along one side of the plan are features that you might not see in the typical suburban yard, but which will definitely enhance the wildlife-friendly habitat. More than 40 species of birds and 20 kinds of animals make use of dead trees (snags) which are becoming more and more scarce as natural areas get developed. If you have some on your property, leave them. If they represent a danger to people or a building, move them to a safer location.

Making room for a brush pile and a rock pile, as well as a stack of logs, will provide cover all year long for many small animals. You can keep these shelters at the edge of your property, shielded by attractive vegetation.

Must Have Water Water is necessary for all wildlife, and there are many ways to provide it. Birdbaths are easy and decorative accents, and especially useful if they are heated in winter when many natural water sources are frozen. Small ponds will attract a variety of creatures, and should have rocks and shallow spots for resting and sunning safely. Deeper parts of a pond allow you to grow water plants. Moving water, whether from a fountain or simple drip system, is the most attractive to wildlife.

This article was written by Maryland Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist Cathy Gilleland. For more information or for the name of a Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist in your area, please contact: WindStar Wildlife Institute

E-mail: wildlife@windstar.org http://www.windstar.org

WindStar Wildlife Institute is a national, non-profit, conservation organization whose mission is to help individuals and families establish or improve the wildlife habitat on their properties.

Š WindStar Wildlife Institute

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Landscaping One Acre For Wildlife