How to Create a Wildlife Habitat

Do you want to see birds, butterflies, frogs and more in your yard? By creating another place for them to eat and nest, you can help many local species and possibly save them from extinction.

You don't actually have to have a big backyard. Even if you just have a balcony, you can still do some things. Plant a few flowers in pots and put out a bird-feeder. Whether you have a huge yard or just a tiny space, you can do a little something to support wildlife.


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    Online or in books, find lists of plants to use. There are many lists available of plants that are native to your area that are attractive to birds, bees, and butterflies. Talk to the people at your local nursery, they may (or may not) know something about this. Once you have a good knowledge of natives, it's not a good idea to add some non-natives just for fun, because they can destroy native plants and they won't attract your local wildlife.
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    To attract butterflies, you need to include plants for both the caterpillars (larval stage) and the butterfly. Again, many lists of plants are available in books and online.
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    Get or buy some plants and gather some people to help you plant them. See if you can find an organic nursery to get your plants from. Plant organically, using no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
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    Make a difference and plant 1 or 2 trees for nesting. (Try to get a tree that already started growing and plant it.
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    Buy bushes to plant. If you want to make it fancy, create a pattern. For example, put trees in the middle, plant bushes around them in a circle and leave room for walking through.
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    Plant as great a variety of plants as you can. Birds love wildflowers, and they love a meadow or prairie. They use parts of the tall grasses in their nests.
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    Some flowers which attract wildlife include asters, coneflowers, sunflowers, coreopsis, salvia, cup plant, cat mint, herbs and onions. Check which are native to your area.
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    Plant berry bushes. Birds and many other animals rely on the berries. Plant blueberries or blackberries or raspberries, for example.
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    Install a sprinkler or just water by hand.
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    Put in a couple of bird baths for birds to bathe in and drink. Change the water every week to prevent disease.
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    Put out a bird-feeder to help out the birds that are migrating through your area. They love sunflower seeds.
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    To make things more enjoyable, have a pond built and keep a fence around it. Remember skunks, squirrels, etc. will be coming around more often. (When installing a pond with fish in it you need an underwater heater.
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    Buy fish for the pond from PetSmart. Buy goldfish. They grow to be incredible sizes! Put real plants in the water, and use a filter. Read up on how to care for your garden pond.


  • If you have kids or just know kids in your neighborhood, show them your garden, teach them to recognize bird calls (there is nothing more beautiful than the call of the dove), flowers and insects. Our only hope for future generations who will look after the earth is that they fall in love with it now.
  • Try to get your neighbors interested in this type of gardening. The goal is to create corridors of healthy gardens for the wildlife, not just isolated spots. Consider starting a gardening club or just talk to your neighbors about what you're doing, and let them know how much fun you're having with it.
  • If you want to see lots of butterflies, plant colorful flowers everywhere. Remember to plant flowers that the caterpillars need, as well as ones that the grown butterflies like.
  • Find out which zone you are in and use plants that are native to that zone. If you plant desert plants in New England, they aren't going to do well! Find out your zone here:


  • Again, as a final warning, don't touch wild animals. They could be poisonous to us, or we could be poisonous to them.
  • Don't try to do everything at once. Start with one small corner of your garden and see how that goes first. You want to enjoy this!
  • Read up a little on invasive species and make sure you're not planting anything invasive. Invasive plants are very hard to get rid of and they tend to take over and wipe out other species. Some examples are trumpet vine (also called trumpet creeper) and kudzu.
  • Don't touch animals in a wild habitat. Talk lovingly to them and they will listen.

Things You'll Need

  • Some lists of native plants (for your zone) that attract wildlife
  • Good books about wildlife gardening

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Wildlife