Welcome Wildlife Into Your Garden!
If you’d like to attract hummingbirds, butterflies, lizards, and other creatures into your garden, start with the four basic ingredients: food, water, shelter, and space to raise their young. Here is a menu of useful tips to create a welcoming garden.
1. Give them food—including flowers, fruits, and seeds—throughout the year, not just in one season. This can help year-round resident wildlife as well as migrating species.
Concha ceanothus, Ceanothus ‘Concha’
Howard McMinn manzanita, Arctostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’
Western elderberry, Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea
2. Give them water to drink and bathe in.
Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
3. Use California native plants.
Cleveland sage, Salvia clevelandii
Pacific Coast Hybrid iris with bumble bee, Bombus species
Red-flowered buckwheat, Eriogonum grande var. rubescens
Jelly Bean White monkeyflower, Mimulus ‘Jelly Bean White’
Fairy duster, Calliandra eriophylla
Paleo Yellow California sunflower, Encelia californica ‘Paleo Yellow’ with Mexican Cactus Fly, Copestylum mexicanum
Louis Hamilton apricot mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua ‘Louis Hamilton’
4. Aim for high diversity of plant species in order to attract and support a wide array of animals.
Colorful tapestry of California native plants
5. Big drifts of flowers attract butterflies, so create large patches of each type of plant you choose.
Drifts of yellow tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), blue chia sage (Salvia columbariae), and pink elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata)
Meadow of yellow tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), blue foothill penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus), and Canyon Prince wild ryegrass (Elymus condensatus ‘Canyon Prince’)
6. Decrease or remove your lawn as it offers little in terms of habitat for wildlife.If you decide to keep your lawn, here are some suggestions for improvement and care:
Meadow of dune sedge (Carex praegracilis), strawberry (Fragaria species), and juniper (Juniperus saxatilis)
Mixed groundcovers, front to back: Silver Carpet California aster (Corethrogyne filaginifolia ‘Silver Carpet’), Frosty Dawn ceanothus (Ceanothus ‘Frosty Dawn’), Pt. Sal purple sage (Salvia leucophylla ‘Pt. Sal’)
7. Create continuous layers of foliage from the ground up to the treetops. Different creatures use each zone.
Woodland garden of California native plants
A clearing in a woodland garden
8. Allow leaf litter to accumulate.
Common poorwill, Phalaenoptilus nuttallii “hiding” in leaf litter
9. Leave dead trees or branches in place if they don’t pose a safety hazard.
Holes in trunk of Western sycamore, Platanus racemosa drilled by woodpeckers to store acorns
Bushtit (Psaltiparus minimus) nest in coast live oak, Quercus agrifolia
10. Reduce grooming overall. Remember brown is one of nature’s colors!
Allen’s Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin
Dried flower stalks of Catalina silver-lace, Constancea nevinii
11. Eliminate toxic pesticides. Birds, bats, lizards, frogs, and toads help control insects naturally. Let them help you achieve a balanced ecosystem in your garden.
California mantid, Stagmomantis californica on dried flower stalk of elegant clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata
Crab spider on frangipani, Plumeria
12. Manage your pets.
13. Take these steps and you’re sure to see more hummingbirds, butterflies, and other creatures in your garden!
Hummingbird nest in Oregon grape, Berberis aquifolium
Ladybird beetles on Chinese houses, Collinsia heterophylla
Lesser Goldfinches (Spinus psaltria) on yarrow, Achillea
Long-horned bee (Melissodes species) on annual sunflower, Helianthus annuus