Most of us know that today’s conventional lawns are generally unsustainable. Grass not only requires large amounts of water and mowing, but it also provides very little to the native ecosystem. Below are some tips on turning your landscaping into a sustainable wildlife garden that benefits your local flora and fauna.
Focus on Native
When choosing plants to fill your landscape, it’s best to choose species that are native to your region. There are many benefits to this, the main ones being:
- Plants grow better in their native region, as water and temperature needs are more easily met.
- Native plants attract native wildlife for food and habitat purposes.
- It’s more likely you can find a cutting or get native plants for a more affordable price than exotic imports
I like to find plants that spread by themselves, like sumac trees, which grow quickly and provide lots of shade cover. Flowers that spread provide great ground cover and usually require little maintenance.
When choosing my plants, I also consider the native wildlife. Where I am in Idaho, we have a few different species of hummingbirds, and the same honeybee problems the rest of the world does. So I plant flowers with nectar to provide for both hummingbirds and bees. I don’t do store-bought feeders, but I do let the seeds from sunflowers and similar plants lie where they will for the birds to pick up. These choices result in my lawn not only being beautiful, but also contributing to the well-being of the local ecosystem.
Natural Alternatives to Grass
In addition to spreading plants, there are lots of other landscape features you can use to replace grass and attract native wildlife. Water sources like ponds can be great for attracting toads and frogs, which eat a lot of bugs you might not want near your garden. If you’ve considered a swimming pool for your human residents, you might look into building a natural swimming pool instead. This is a chemical-free pool that emulates natural water sources. It’s a lot friendlier on humans, animals, and the surrounding landscape.
Of course, a beneficial replacement for grass is to fill your land with edible plants. Growing a garden can take a lot of work, but it is rewarding not just with the physical asset of food, but also the health aspect of spending time outside and working the land. Gardening can boost both physical and mental health, and is one of the most accessible way to increase your self-sustainability. And of course, the more work you put into it, the more self-sustaining you’ll be. Utilizing your food waste to create compost is a great way to grow a nutrient-rich harvest, avoid spending money, and control the ingredients in your soil and plants.
Keep the Pests Away Without Poison
Even when you’re dedicated to living a sustainable and healthy life, sometimes it’s tempting to take shortcuts. When bugs are eating the leaves of your peppers and rabbits and deer are breaking into your garden, it might seem like pesticides and traps are the only option. Of course, this isn’t the case. There are tons of healthy alternatives to lawn and garden pesticides. These range from active plant maintenance to natural sprays including mint and other deterrents. Look up the dislikes of your specific pests and you’ll find strategies for keeping them at bay without poisoning your crop or resorting to animal cruelty.
Attracting native wildlife to your landscape will help your native landscape flourish. It will also minimize the negative impact that you have on the habitat of your area’s animals and plants. How do you attract beneficial animals to your land and keep pests away? Share in the comments!