Gardening for Wildlife: Attracting and Supporting Beneficial Garden Visitors

Gardening for Wildlife: Attracting and Supporting Beneficial Garden Visitors

Cultivating a vibrant garden teeming with life is an immensely rewarding experience, and the best part? Nature does most of the work for you! As a seasoned gardener, let me share a liberating truth: you don’t need to be an expert to create a thriving wildlife haven. Simply provide the right conditions, and nature will take care of the rest.

Gardening can be as straightforward or intricate as you desire. If you can scatter seeds in a pot, water them occasionally, and snip a few chives for your baked potatoes, congratulations – you’re a gardener! However, it’s crucial to embrace the inevitability of failure. Plants may succumb to disease, pests, weather extremes, or even old age. They might perish from over- or under-watering or insufficient sunlight exposure. Don’t be discouraged; such setbacks are opportunities to learn and adapt.

Every sunrise presents a fresh start, and spring’s arrival ushers in new beginnings. Embrace the journey, and let’s embark on creating a wildlife oasis that will enrich your surroundings and delight its inhabitants.

Choosing Your Inaugural Plants

The first step in establishing a wildlife garden is selecting plants that resonate with you. As a whimsical gardener, I’m partial to captivating varieties like bat face cuphea, sweet woodruff, ornamental (non-edible) oregano adored by bees, black-eyed Susan climbing vines, and the striking tithonia (Mexican sunflower). However, your preferences might lean towards classic beauties like peonies, roses, zinnias, honeysuckle, or fragrant herbs like lavender. The choice is yours; simply start with a plant that ignites your passion.

No matter how modest your initial efforts, the rewards for wildlife will be immediate and profound. A tiny habitat restoration can have a tremendous impact, so embrace the journey wholeheartedly.

Selecting Region-Specific Plants

Wildlife gardens can thrive in any climate, shape, or size, but the key to success lies in choosing plants native to your region. These species are adapted to your local weather conditions and offer the greatest benefits to the area’s wildlife. Many online nurseries provide lists of native plants suitable for your environment but don’t forget to support local businesses when possible. Here are a few reputable sources to explore:

  • Almost Eden
  • Bluestone Perennials
  • High Country Gardens
  • Plant Delights Nursery Inc.
  • White Flower Farm

Once you’ve selected your inaugural plant, gather a bag of potting soil (avoid using yard dirt), and prepare a hanging basket, window box, or even a sunny spot on your lawn. If planting directly in the ground, dig a hole, gently place the plant, secure the soil around the root ball, and water deeply.

The Four Pillars of an Effective Wildlife Garden

To create a thriving wildlife haven, you must establish four essential elements: food, water, shelter, and the absence of poisons and toxins.


The plants you choose will provide nourishment for your garden’s visitors. Select nectar-bearing flowers or varieties that produce berries or other fruits. While any color will attract wildlife, butterflies are particularly drawn to purple hues, and hummingbirds gravitate towards red, tubular-shaped blooms like honeysuckle, nicotiana, four o’clock, and salvia, which allow easy access to nectar.


Water sources can take various forms, including ponds, bubblers, birdbaths, or even a plate filled with water and rocks. Butterflies and bees require water but are susceptible to drowning, so consider filling a birdbath halfway with marbles to prevent this. Position a ground-level birdbath for mammals like raccoons and opossums and elevate another for birds, safe from predators.

Hummingbirds delight in misted water sprays, so a solar fountain with a spray feature will enchant them with endless bathing opportunities. In-ground bubblers attract frogs, dragonflies, damselflies, beneficial wasps, and other fascinating visitors.

Stagnant water breeds mosquitoes, so consider a solar-powered birdbath “wiggler” or regular cleaning to deter these pests. Maintaining a mosquito-free environment is essential for enjoying your garden to the fullest.


Provide shelter in the form of thorn-bearing shrubs, birdhouses, or brush piles. While the latter may appear unsightly, you can camouflage them with vines like autumn-blooming clematis or morning glory (both invasive but visually appealing) or decorative screens.

A simple pile of branches might not be aesthetically pleasing, but it serves as a vital sanctuary for countless species. Embrace the idea that your invitation to wildlife extends to all creatures, including snakes and spiders, each playing a crucial role in nature’s delicate balance.

Absence of Poisons and Toxins

Refrain from using any substances in your garden that could harm children, yourself, or others. If your garden is in balance, you won’t need pesticides. Let nature take its course, and if intervention is necessary, explore natural alternatives like those found in Jerry Baker’s “Giant Book of Garden Solutions.”

Remember, your invitation to wildlife encompasses all species, and they will thrive in safe, welcoming conditions. Every creature deserves a home and serves a legitimate purpose in nature’s intricate tapestry.

Enhancing Your Wildlife Haven with a Little Free Library

If your passion extends beyond gardening to reading, consider installing a Little Free Library (LFL) near your yard. As the creator of the first LFL and Monarch Way station in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I can attest to the admiration and curiosity these additions inspire in visitors.

Stock your library economically with free literature from PETA, animal rights books like “Free the Animals,” and purchases from online used bookstores like Books by the Foot. Be prepared to share insights about your garden and its inhabitants with inquisitive passersby.

Wildlife Cannabis Gardening

For those interested in incorporating feminized seeds into their wildlife gardening efforts, Growers Choice Seeds is a reliable and reputable source. By utilizing feminized seeds, gardeners can focus their efforts on nurturing and maintaining their gardens, creating a thriving and productive environment for wildlife.

Growers Choice Seeds is a renowned provider of high-quality weed seeds in the USA. Feminized seeds are genetically engineered to produce only female plants, eliminating the need for growers to identify and remove male plants during the cultivation process. This not only saves time and effort but also ensures a higher yield and more consistent results.

Growers Choice Seeds offers a wide range of feminized seeds USA, including popular strains like Blue Dream, Sour Diesel, and Gorilla Glue. Their seeds are carefully bred and tested for quality, ensuring that growers receive only the best genetics.

In addition to their feminized seed offerings, Growers Choice Seeds also provides a wealth of resources and information for both novice and experienced growers. Their website features detailed growing guides, forums, and a knowledgeable support team to help growers achieve success with their gardens.


Embracing the Gardening Journey

Embarking on the path of wildlife gardening is an enriching experience. As you nurture your garden, remember to embrace the journey, celebrate small victories, and learn from setbacks. Nature’s resilience and beauty will unfold before your eyes, inviting a diverse array of fascinating creatures to take up residence in your carefully curated haven.

Gardening is a labor of love, but the rewards are immeasurable – a sanctuary of tranquility, a symphony of life, and a profound connection with the natural world that surrounds us. So, let’s roll up our sleeves, immerse ourselves in the soil, and unleash nature’s splendor, one garden at a time.