4 Tips to Help Turn Your Garden into a Wildlife Sanctuary

Let’s talk about the birds and the bees ... in our garden!

Creating a wildlife sanctuary in outdoor spaces can be a rewarding hobby. Even if your backyard is only 10 ft. by 10 ft., you can make it an inviting home for nature.

Here are four tips on how to turn your garden into a wildlife sanctuary.

Bird Feeders & Baths

When you create an inviting space for birds, you are helping to replenish food sources that have been removed due to development in cities.

Different birds prefer different seed blends; that’s why our Parkwood® Bird Seed Program offers you the chance to create your own mix by blending black oil sunflower seed and deluxe wild bird seed together or keeping them separate. With this program, participants receive a reusable bucket to fill (bonus: the 11th fill is on us!).

Our friends at Armstrong Milling (link) offer a wide range of seed created for wild birds. Jays, sparrows, finches, chickadees, to name a few, will be pleased to see their favourite foods in your backyard.

You may consider adding a bird bath, as your feathered friends will surely enjoy grooming and drinking from it, especially on hot summer days. Many birds will hunt for clean seeds and insects around your garden.

Plant Native Fruit Trees for Wildlife

Serviceberries, chokeberries, black currants, winterberry, viburnum (nannyberry), and elderberry are some options you can add to your landscape to benefit wildlife as a food source and attract birds.

Bee-friendly

Aside from planting bee-nifical plants grown without the use of neonicotinoids, adding bee homes is a great addition to your outdoor space if you want to help the bees pollinate.

coneflower white honeybeeThe Bee & Bee Villa and Bee-Bop Barn from NIC offer nesting tunnels for young bees and protect developing bees from predators.

They are also made to protect the nesting reeds in inclement weather and are designed to hang so that when it rains, the rain will drain away.

Mason bee nesting tubes need to be six inches long and have a 5/8 diameter, otherwise the bees will not use them; they are very particular about this.

They tend to lay six eggs to a tube with two females at the back and four males up front.

As far as experts can tell, the reasoning behind this is in the event that a predator attacks, they can sacrifice a few males to secure the safety of the next generation, as the females (the egg layers) are at the back and well out of harm’s way.

If you create your own bee hotel, please keep in mind that using wood blocks with drilled holes will likely fail within a few years due to pests; these need to be changed annually.

Pollen mites and parasitic wasps will build up in such numbers that you will cause more harm than good. Pieces of wood with holes drilled into them need to be changed every year or two and are not really suitable for serious mason bee rearing. Don’t set your bees up for failure.

Create a Layered Garden

Plants with orange or red tube-shaped flowers will attract humming birds to your yard. Some of our favourites are canna lilies, fuchsia, honeysuckle vine, and trumpet vine.

When purchasing plants and vegetables, consider how long their bloom or fruit production is. Here are some of our favourite plants by season:

Spring: Redbud tree, flowering bulbs (muscari, chionodoxa), chokecherry, elderberry, pear and apple trees, and peonies.

Summer: Coneflower, lavender, cucumber, tomatoes, blueberries, cherries, pear, butterfly weed, and butterfly bush. Liatris (Kobold Gayfeather) blooms attract bees and the seeds feed the birds in winter.

Fall: Aster, pumpkins, rudbeckia, sunflower, english lavender (long blooming season), rose of Sharon, and coneflowers.

Winter: Winterberry and chokeberry are great options for winter wildlife. The seed pods from plants like coneflower, black eyed Susan, and Liatris provide food for cardinals and chickadees.