Protect & Encourage Wildlife
Gardeners play an important role in protecting and encouraging wildlife whether in urban, suburban, or rural areas. Many habitats that were once the exclusive realm of wild creatures have become homes and gardens. We can support shrinking populations of beneficial wildlife, especially those needed for pollination and pest control, by providing access to food, water, nesting, and rest sites. Gardens and landscapes that include a variety of native plants do that most efficiently.
An Inviting Habitat
- Plant native species that native bees seek out for nectar as they move from flower to flower, pollinating as they go, just as they did before European honey bees arrived.
- Minimize exotic species and focus on California natives to create islands of plants similar to age-old ecosystems needed by native fauna.
- Mass similar plants together in groups of 3-5 to more easily attract birds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
- Maintain a year-round food source with plants that flower or fruit in each season.
- Be sure to include plants that attract caterpillars and other insects that birds feed on and need to nourish their young.
- Locate nesting sites suitable for all types of beneficial insects. (See links below).
- Alternate heights and textures of plant groupings to attract species to different niches. Provide layers of foliage from groundcovers to mid-height and tall shrubs as well as trees.
- Add a bubbling or shallow water source with rocks and stones along the edges so bees can reach in without risk of drowning. Birds avoid deep water but drink and bathe in shallow pools.
- Leave a bit of bare ground when laying mulch around plants to provide nesting sites for ground nesting native bees. These bees are solitary and do not nest in hives like honey bees but lay their eggs in bare ground. Some native bees nest in old beetle tunnels in wood or dead stems of certain plants.
- Install bird houses and a bee hotel to provide welcoming nesting sites. (See links below for construction details.)
- Leave some spent flowers during garden clean-up. Ripe seeds provide critical food for many birds.
- Refrain from removing all downed wood and brush piles. They provide shelter for birds and insects as well as for small mammals.
- Avoid pruning off all dead tree branches that become perches for raptors.
- Use non-lethal methods of pest control to avoid harming beneficial insects.
- Limit outdoor activities of household pets that pose a danger to all forms of wildlife.
- California Native Plants
- Beneficial Bird Native Plant Chart for California
- Bay Area native plants to support butterflies & moth's lifecycles (by Douglas Tallamy)
- Tallamy, Douglas W., Bringing Nature Home, 2020