Choices must be made in the backyard just as they are made in managing larger properties. Do you want to focus on providing habitat for species that prefer taller trees and a shady understory or species that thrive in sunny landscapes? Preventing disturbance and wildlife mortality from dogs and cats, planning food and cover sources in close proximity, and managing against nest competitors such as the house sparrow should be considered when planning your landscape.
Landscaping your home site with native wildflowers and shrubs will make it attractive to many species of butterflies and songbirds. Hummingbirds are particularly attracted to red or orange tubular flowers such as trumpet creeper, honeysuckle, cardinal flower, columbine, bergamot, and red buckeye. Other songbirds will use fruits and seeds of shrubs such as viburnum, American beautyberry, silky dogwood, and spicebush. Butterflies are attracted to native flowers such as milkweeds, coneflowers, phlox, mints, blazing stars, and asters.
Creating zones of progressively taller wildflowers and native grasses, and transitioning to shrubs and small trees between small lawns and wooded areas can be an attractive way to provide cover for wildlife. Many native fruit-producing shrubs and small trees are suitable for planting in “islands” to break up extensive areas of lawn. Other techniques such as brush piles or half cutting are more suitable for back corners and hidden nooks. Actions that replace monocultures of grass (lawn) with more diverse plants are a step in the right direction to benefit wildlife.
Going Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants
Residential Landscaping for Wildlife
Reptiles and Amphibians in Your Backyard
NEPARC Backyard Habitat Guide
Managing Backyards and Other Urban Habitats for Birds
Bird Houses and Feeders