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Creating a Wildlife-Friendly Yard: How to Avoid Food Deserts for Local Fauna

A thriving yard is not only a beautiful sight to behold, but it can also be an essential resource for local wildlife. By planting the right vegetation, you can help to provide food and shelter for a variety of insects, birds, and other animals, while also enhancing the biodiversity of your yard. In this blog post, we'll discuss the importance of planting vegetation in a way that never creates a food desert for local wildlife and provide some tips to help you create a more wildlife-friendly yard.

The Importance of Avoiding Food Deserts in Your Yard:

'Hawk's Last Meal'?

A food desert occurs when an area lacks sufficient food resources to sustain the local fauna. This can happen when there are few native plants or when the plants in the area don't provide adequate nutrition for the local wildlife. In order to create a thriving ecosystem in your yard, it's essential to ensure that you're planting a diverse selection of plants that provide nourishment and shelter for a variety of species. This not only benefits the wildlife but also helps to maintain a balanced ecosystem that supports overall garden health.

Tips for Creating a Wildlife-Friendly Yard:

  1. Plant native species: Native plants are more likely to provide the necessary food and shelter for the local wildlife, as they have co-evolved with the native fauna. Research native plants in your area and incorporate them into your garden design to create a more supportive environment for wildlife.

  2. Choose a variety of plants: Plant a diverse range of vegetation, including trees, shrubs, and groundcovers, to provide different types of food and shelter for various species. This can include berry-producing plants, nectar-rich flowers, and plants with seeds that attract birds and insects.

  3. Opt for plants with a range of bloom times: By selecting plants that bloom at different times throughout the year, you can ensure a continuous supply of food for wildlife. This helps to support a healthy population of insects, birds, and other animals throughout the various seasons.

  4. Create layers of vegetation: A multi-layered landscape with groundcovers, shrubs, and trees can provide a variety of habitats for wildlife. This can help to support a diverse range of species, from ground-dwelling insects and mammals to birds that prefer to nest in taller trees.

  5. Provide water sources: Many animals require a source of fresh water for drinking and bathing. Consider adding a bird bath or a small pond to your garden to provide a valuable resource for wildlife.

  6. Avoid pesticides: Chemical pesticides can be harmful to wildlife and can disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem. Instead, opt for organic pest control methods or encourage natural predators, such as ladybugs and birds, to help keep pest populations in check.

  7. Leave some areas undisturbed: Allowing some areas of your yard to remain a little wild can provide valuable habitat for a variety of creatures. Piles of leaves, fallen branches, and dense shrubbery can all serve as shelter and nesting sites for wildlife.

Regional Planting Strategies: Nourishing Local Wildlife Across the USA

Vibrant backyard full of life.

Below are some potential region-specific planting strategies across the USA that could potentially be used to provide the right habitat and food resources for the native wildlife in your area:

Northeast (New England, Mid-Atlantic)

  • Plant a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees, such as oaks, maples, pines, and spruces, to provide year-round shelter and food sources.

  • Include berry-producing shrubs like winterberry, viburnum, and dogwood.

  • Add native perennials like goldenrod, aster, and milkweed to support pollinators.

  • Plant a variety of spring, summer, and fall-blooming flowers to ensure a continuous nectar supply.

Southeast (South Atlantic, East South Central):

  • Incorporate a diverse range of trees, such as live oaks, magnolias, and longleaf pines.

  • Plant native shrubs like beautyberry, azaleas, and American elder for berries and nesting sites.

  • Use native grasses and groundcovers, like switchgrass and partridge pea, to provide cover and seeds for wildlife.

  • Add flowering plants like bee balm, Joe Pye weed, and purple coneflower to support pollinators.

Midwest (East North Central, West North Central):

  • Plant a mix of deciduous trees, including oaks, maples, and hickories, for food and shelter.

  • Include native shrubs like chokeberry, hazelnut, and serviceberry.

  • Plant native grasses, such as big bluestem, little bluestem, and Indian grass.

  • Choose a variety of native perennials, like black-eyed Susan, coneflower, and milkweed, to support pollinators and provide seeds for birds.

Southwest (West South Central, Mountain)

  • Incorporate drought-tolerant trees, such as mesquite, juniper, and desert willow, to provide shade and food.

  • Use native shrubs like Texas sage, creosote bush, and desert hackberry for cover and berries.

  • Plant native grasses, like buffalo grass and blue grama, for ground cover and seeds.

  • Add drought-tolerant flowering plants like penstemon, salvia, and blanket flower to support pollinators.

West (Pacific):

  • Plant a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees, like Douglas fir, redwood, and bigleaf maple, for year-round habitat and food sources.

  • Include native shrubs like salal, Oregon grape, and manzanita for cover and berries.

  • Plant native grasses and groundcovers, such as California fescue and kinnikinnick, for cover and seeds.

  • Choose a variety of native flowering plants, like lupine, California poppy, and columbine, to support pollinators.

Remember that these planting strategies are examples and should be tailored to your specific location, taking into account factors like soil type, sun exposure, and available space. Be sure to consult local resources, such as native plant societies or extension services, for specific recommendations tailored to your area.

In Sum

By planting vegetation that supports local wildlife and avoiding the creation of food deserts, you can help to create a healthier, more sustainable garden that benefits both the environment and the creatures that call it home. With a little planning and consideration, your yard can become a thriving ecosystem teeming with life and beauty.



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