The Little Things We Can Do

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A hairstreak butterflies in a Florida backyard. Photo © Bill Spitzer / TNC Photo Contest 2019

If you are fortunate enough to have a yard of your own, consider this suggestion by Charles Fergus:

Create Wildlife Habitat Around Your House

By itself, a plain grass lawn is stark and visually unappealing—which is why most homeowners add shrubs, flower beds, and specimen trees. Today, there’s a new movement afoot known as natural landscaping: using native trees, shrubs, and low plants to add textural diversity to a yard while attracting and benefiting wildlife.

Research has shown that seeing wildlife around your home—hearing birds sing, glimpsing brightly colored butterflies and dragonflies, seeing a garter snake slither into a stone wall— makes life more enjoyable.

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Common milkweed growing in Illinois. Photo © Timothy T. Lindenbaum / TNC

Many of us have a visceral need to be in touch with wild creatures and to acknowledge that we ourselves are part of nature, even if we live in suburbs and other settings where housing is dense.

Today, more and more homeowners are integrating habitat features with their grass yards, informed and encouraged by university cooperative extension services, organizations like the Audubon Society and National Wildlife Federation, and forward-thinking scientists such as Douglas Tallamy, an entomologist and wildlife ecologist with the University of Delaware.

Tallamy’s groundbreaking books, Bringing Nature Home (Timber Press, 2007) and The Living Landscape (Timber Press, 2014), explain how using native plants can help sustain  wildlife, plus deliver other benefits, including saving energy, screening out objectionable sights or sounds, cooling the air, sequestering carbon, recharging groundwater, and improving soil aeration—all while yielding a sense that you are helping rather than impeding nature.

Rest assured that even if you own a small lot, you can make a difference. Whether it’s creating a patch of woodland, installing a birdbath or other water feature, or putting in a butterfly garden or a hedge of native shrubs, you can help wildlife and the environment while making your yard more interesting and enjoyable for yourself and your family…

Read the whole article here.

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