7 Tips for Creating a Garden to Attract Wildlife

Permaculture systems work with nature and give value to all parts of it. While producing edible crops is one of the main focuses of any permaculture plot, other factors are also considered, including the pleasure that the garden brings, the benefit it can give to the earth it sits on, and how it can help to conserve precious and finite resources like water.

A further aspect of a permaculture design is how it interacts with local and migratory wildlife. Wild animals are a part of the ecosystem in which the permaculture plot is located, and so deserve consideration when making a design. Sometimes natural techniques will be deployed to deter certain animals from the site (in order to protect other life forms, be they plants or animals), but often the permaculture gardener will seek to attract wildlife to the site. Doing so can often help in keeping populations of other creatures, particularly pest insects, in the correct balance for the ecosystem, but having wild animals visit a site also adds pleasure to a site, either through observing them or hearing their voices, be it birdsong or the croaking of frogs. Here are some of the ways to attract wildlife to your permaculture garden.

Maximize Diversity
As with many aspects of permaculture design, maximizing the diversity and variety of plants is one of the most effective ways to attract a range of wild animals, as doing so offers a wide range of habitat niches in which animals can function. Aim to create layers of vegetation, with ground cover plantings, shrubs and trees to give a range of environments to suit many species. For instance, some birds nest in the canopy of mature trees while others prefer small bushes closer to the ground for their nest building. Many birds, amphibians, insects and mammals look for food in groundcover and leaf litter, so avoid bare earth on your plot (which is good for your site anyway, as ground cover crops and leaf litter help protect the soil from erosion). A wide array of plants will also provide many different food sources, from leaves and shoots to fallen fruit and seeds.

Use Native Plants
When making your planting decisions, use native species whenever possible. These are the plants that are most suited to the climatic and soil conditions in your location. They are also those which are attractive to native animals, with relationships between them having built up over centuries of evolution. Native plants are also better at preserving water and nutrients in the soil, which will help support populations of insects and other microorganisms in the soil, which in turn will attract animals that feed on them.

Have Flowering Plants
Having lots of plants that produce blooms will attract a lot of different insects to your permaculture garden, as they feed on the nectar and pollen in the flowers. These insects will not only help to pollinate the plants in your permaculture site, they will in turn attract other species that predate n them, as well as birds. As with any feature of your permaculture design, seek to plant flowering plants that have more than one function. Lots of vegetable and fruit species produce attractive flowers, while some species of flower, such as nasturtiums, are edible themselves. Even those you can’t eat can perform more than a single function, such as daffodils being panted to deter deer from eating the crop from your fruit trees.

Add a Water Body
Almost all living things need water in order to survive. Providing that water is a sure way to bring wild animals to your garden. Not only does it provide animals with somewhere to drink from and bathe in, it is also another habitat for them to populate. Frogs, toads and other amphibians live in and around water bodies, while a whole raft of insects are aquatic or prey on others that are. Again, variety is the key to maximizing the animals that come to the water body. A variety of depths to the water offer different niches, while a diversity of plants in, on and around the edge will also attract animals.

Compost
Composting the soil has a great many benefits for the permaculture plot. Not only does it help the soil to retain moisture, prevent erosion by wind and rain, provide plants with valuable nutrients, and provide a means of recycling waste from the garden and the kitchen, it promotes wildlife as well. A soil rich in the organic matter that comprises compost is a healthy one, providing the best conditions for microorganisms and insects to thrive within it. And because ecosystems are complex interrelated webs of plants and animals, this brings other animals to the site as their source of food (the microorganisms) is abundant. These in turn attract other predators, and so on up the food chain. As with many things in your permaculture plot, attracting wildlife starts with a good, healthy soil.

Offer Protection
Many animals are attracted to locations that offer them protection, both from the elements and from predators. Planting a wide variety of tips for creating a gardenplants, particularly if you aim for several ‘layers’ of plants at different heights is a good way to do this, especially for birds, but you may also want to institute windbreaks if your site is prone to strong winds, and ensure there are plenty of places in shade if you experience regular high temperatures. Also make sure that your pets are not a threat to the wildlife, giving them plenty of places to hide and ensuring any measures you institute to attract birds do not put them in reach of your cat.

Create Niches
Providing a variety of non-plant environments on your plot is also key to attracting wildlife. Every animal in nature has its own characteristics, requirements and preferences, so having features on your plot that meet these will allow creatures to thrive. Even seemingly innocuous items such as rocks, fallen branches and hollow logs can provide homes and hunting grounds for wildlife.

32 comments

My garden has no problem attracting deer. DAMMIT!

Besides deer, cardinals and some other birds that size are a terrible pest, damaging and eating all my fruit. I want to repel this type of wildlife.

deer rabies is on the rise in penns woods

laughing.. We don’t have this problem. We try to plant more than we need to compensate. Doesn’t always work, but it is what it is. They don’t even wait for us to leave the garden.

Thom

Yeah, I want to attract ungulates to my garden. Don’t think so. Been there, done that.

I would like to share Permaculture, but sometimes I just can’t trust the content

Consistantly annoying Hubbie with info about litter and moss being good things; we don’t need or want a sterile, pristine yard.

buy as much land as possible to keep development at bay!

I’m planting a native woods with year round food and cover for wildlife. Berries, Grasses for birdseed, native perennials for nectar and seed, a stock tank with minnows provides habitat and water. Water is the number one thing to keep wildlife in your yard, because it takes a lot of energy to search for water. I also leave leaves on the ground for insects to hide in. They improve the soil and feed birds and lizards.

By the way, I love your informative posts.

Musk! My friend was wearing a musk scent perfume while hiking in the fall. She found herself surrounded by snorting does.

Minerals and fruit trees .

sound of water, bright color flowers and a sand ring to view prints of what came for water

Corn feeders for deer

I don’t have to attract it, I am overrun by it lol!

Simply leave the land alone and nature will do its thing and wild life will follow… Wild life flee when people occupy… Maybe carve a self niche if need be, but insert it minimally and let nature have top priority domain…

We have enough wildlife here. Too much! B careful to keep pets enclosed & place your ‘bait’ a distance from your house for safety . I like birds butterfly s & try to attract bees. Nothing else.

I want them to stay out and not eat my garden.

yeah I always beem with joy when I see a deer in my garden.

i HAVE A SMALL GROUP OF 9 OR MORE DEER and BABIES THAT COME UP TO MUNCH CORN, BAGS OF APPLES, PEARS AND MY TOMATO PLANTS I TRY TO GROW… But hey, I can go to the market, they can’t.

Right but you can’t have bugs when gmo crops are nearby poisoning not only them but the entire ecosystem. Why would you endorse such a demonic entity???

This is a wonderful idea and very therapeutic, it also ensures that you can plant and grow non gmo veggies for your family. We have to do what we can for ourselves, just not having any sort of garden because neighboring crops are probably gmo is a defeatist attitude.

Oh I’ve always a couple gardens underway, I strive on without concern in what the rest of the world is doing, I’m simply pointing the finger at this permaculture site because they have a posting that is promoting gmo crops. Kind of a kick in the ass if you’d ask me.

Yes, anyone promoting gmo”s have got to go. I see your point.

I get deer without even trying!

I actually like the non biased information that they did post, even when I am for more against GMOs than the information provided in that post. To me, it tells me their opinions a driven by information vs emotionally biased information, that most pages post.

They are following studies and information without horse blinders

I don’t totally agree but there can be areas set aside for wild life she have did this for years we have had fear rows separating our fields for year which are nessary. To stop erosion the would life adapts well in them

The presence of critters of all ilks means you have a healthy ecosystem. Each plays a part!

Carrie Thorsby

Comments are closed