Welcome wildlife to your garden

Some tips and tricks.

A swallowtail butterfly on purple verbena
Western tiger swallowtail nectaring on lilac verbena.

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. Scroll down for more useful tips to create a welcoming garden.

Oregon grape leaves surround a hummingbird nest

Hummingbird nest in Oregon grape leaves. 

Woodpecker holes on a sycamore tree

Holes drilled by woodpeckers in western sycamore to store acorns.

Close-up of a California mantid on a grass stalk

Close-up of a California mantid on a dried farewell-to-spring flower stalk.

Native California wild flowers in a meadow

Colorful tapestry of California native plants.

A crab spider sits in the middle of a frangipani

A crab spider sits in the middle of a frangipani.

Dune sedge, strawberry, and juniper make good lawn alternatives

A lawn alternative of California native plants: dune sedge, strawberry, and juniper.

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Hummingbird nest in Oregon grape leaves. 

Holes drilled by woodpeckers in western sycamore to store acorns.

Close-up of a California mantid on a dried farewell-to-spring flower stalk.

Colorful tapestry of California native plants.

A crab spider sits in the middle of a frangipani.

A lawn alternative of California native plants: dune sedge, strawberry, and juniper.

  • Offer food—flower, fruit, and seeds—throughout the year, not just in one season. This supports local wildlife, not just migrating species.
  • Don't forget water to drink and bathe in. Keep birdbaths clean to avoid spreading diseases and to eliminate mosquito larvae. Situate the water in an open spot to deter predators.
  • Learn which plants are native to your area. They are more likely to thrive because they are better adapted to your local soil and microclimates.
  • Aim for high diversity of plant species to attract different animals. Bonus tip: Big drifts of flowers attract butterflies, so create large patches of each type of plant you choose.
  • Decrease or remove your lawn—it offers little in terms of wildlife habitat. If you decide to keep your lawn, can you make it smaller? You can even mix in a few native ornamental bunchgrasses, which provide food and nesting material for animals.
A grey-and-white poorwill hides in the leaves

Common poorwill "hiding" in leaf litter.

Dried flower stalks rise out of Cataline silver lace bushes

  Dried flower stalks of Catalina silverlace.

Aster, ceanothus, and sage bushes create purple and green heding

From front to back: silver carpet California aster, Frosty Dawn ceanothus, and Pt. Sal purple sage.

Ladybugs on purple Chinese houses, a type of flower

Ladybird beetles on Chinese houses, a type of native wildflower.

A path runs through a shady woodland garden

Woodland garden of California native plants.

Goldfinch on an orange yarrow flower

Lesser goldfinches on yarrow.

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Common poorwill "hiding" in leaf litter.

  Dried flower stalks of Catalina silverlace.

From front to back: silver carpet California aster, Frosty Dawn ceanothus, and Pt. Sal purple sage.

Ladybird beetles on Chinese houses, a type of native wildflower.

Woodland garden of California native plants.

Lesser goldfinches on yarrow.

  • Allow leaf litter to accumulate—this natural mulch provides habitat for insects and a place for seeds to accumulate instead of blowing or washing away. Leave dead trees or branches in place if they don’t pose a safety hazard, and avoid pruning during nesting season. Remember, brown is one of nature’s colors!
  • Create continuous layers of foliage from the ground up to the treetops. Different creatures use each zone.
  • Eliminate toxic pesticides. Birds, bats, lizards, frogs, and toads help control insects naturally. Let them help you achieve a balanced ecosystem in your garden.
  • Manage your pets. Cats are excellent hunters—killing billions of birds and lizards every year—and dogs chase squirrels and birds.