You might think that you garden just so that you can enjoy the pretty flowers. Or so that you have nice landscaping around your house. You might plant shrubs for privacy screening or as a focal point next to your front door. When you plant shrubs, though, you're also giving a leg up to wildlife--something that's sorely needed in this day and age of rampant development.
Whether you specifically intend to create a wildlife garden, or welcoming wildlife is a secondary benefit to your landscaping, when you plant shrubs you do the following:
- Provide a place for birds to nest
- Provide food for birds, butterflies, and caterpillars
- Provide cover for birds and other animals
- Create corridors through which wildlife can safely pass in urban areas
Birds with food, water, and shelter will fledge (raise) more chicks to maturity. And it's as easy as selecting the right plants!
Gardening for Birds and Butterflies
Before we get to the plants, let's think about water. The National Wildlife Foundation recommends these types of water supplies for habitat gardens:
- Seasonal Pool
- Water Garden/Pond
- Butterfly Puddling Area
- Rain Garden
Another important part of wildlife gardening is shelter. Birds need places to build nests. Small mammals need cover. One of our favorite shrubs for shelter is the Beautybush. This lovely native shrub does double-duty with gorgeous purple berries that feed the birds in the fall.
Don't forget the evergreen shrubs, too! They work hard for you and for your feathered and furry friends in the winter, providing good cover when deciduous shrubs are bare.
There's one type of wildlife that pretty much nobody wants in their garden because they'll eat your plants to the ground: deer. And while there aren't any plants that are 100% deer-proof (a hungry deer will eat anything), there are lots of deer-resistant shrubs. These are shrubs that either don't taste good or don't feel good (thorny) for deer to eat.
(Pictured, right, get deer to steer clear by planting Sunjoy™ Mini Saffron Berberis as a landscape border.)