The Ecosystem of a Wildlife Garden

The Ecosystem of the Garden

Your wildlife garden is an ecosystem of interconnected parts. Everything is connected when you create a welcoming habitat for wildlife, the priority of your garden.

It’s not just the birds and the blooms as two different subjects. It is that the birds are connected to the blooms, which are connected to the insects, which are connected to frogs, toads, and bats. It’s a food web, a chain of events that all work together to create a total system.

The Five Pillars of Ecosystem Gardening

1. Sustainable Landscaping

Sustainability may be one of the most overused words in the gardening world right now, and there are long wordy definitions to attempt to clarify it’s meaning. But I break it down into two areas:

  • Manage your Inputs. A sustainable garden does not need all of those bags and bottles of stuff that you can find at the garden center.
  • Manage your Outputs. A sustainable garden will work to eliminate outputs from your property, such as managing storm water on-site, and managing your yard waste on-site through composting.

2. Healthy Soil

Ever heard that adage, “Feed the Soil, not the Plant?” Healthy plants need healthy soil. And wildlife gardeners know that there is more wildlife beneath the soil than there is above the ground. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides destroy these soil organisms, and these organisms are responsible for keeping your soil healthy.

3. Water Conservation

I don’t know why we treat rain water as toxic waste to be rushed immediately off of our properties, but with good planning you can keep this valuable resource in your garden, reduce your water bills, and help stop flooding and stream bank erosion.

4. Remove Invasive Plants

Invasive plants are escaping from our gardens, and running rampant through our woodlands and natural areas. We as taxpayers pay $138 BILLION every year trying to control these species. These plants are destroying wildlife habitat, so we can make a big difference for wildlife in our gardens by removing these plants.

5. Add More Native Plants

Native plants support local food webs. We have the power to really help wildlife when we add more native plants to our gardens. Every state has a native plant society that can help you determine the most appropriate plants for your garden. And these wonderful people are a great resource, not only about the plants but also where you can find them close to you.

When we follow these five principles, we will automatically begin to see more wildlife in our gardens. If you’d like to know more about Ecosystem Gardening, I was just interviewed by Rachel Mathews of Successful Garden Design (Episode 10)

    • says

      MrsRoadrunner, my pond is the most happening place in my garden. The Robins are always lined up along the edges waiting their turn to splash and play. I’ve got frogs calling, and soon I’ll have dragonflies, too. I just love to sit and watch all the things that happen there :)

  1. Sherri Cortes says

    We have made our backyard into our own oasis/wonderland. Not only for us but for birds, frogs, dragonflies, butterflies. The yard is bileveled. There is a large fountin on oneside of the yard and a pond on the other side, These are on the lower level. The upper level has a rock garden . there are concrete table and benches and bird baths through out. there are weeping cherry blossom trees, Crape mertals, an acorn tree and other trees. we have planted all perinials so they will come back year after year. Autum sedums, a variaty of Hastas and monkey grasses, a Red twig dogwood tree, russion sage, several yacas and sometimes a “weed” that we let grow because we didnt know what it was and it has turned out to be a big aire plant with tall thin spikes of yellow.we have painted verious items diffrent colors throuout and have also used diffrent types of pots that have also been planted with perinials. There is concret winding somewhat throu out. This is in the middle of the city.It is our little paradise. We spend houres daily in this paradise just watching all the goings on. Birds bathing, drinking from the fountin going up and down playing, nesting, cherping. it is a site to behold.

  2. Lee Sollenberger says

    I live in the Cariboo in British Columbia, Canada on a lake.. when we first moved here it was bare land. I planted trees a varity of shrubs and several types of attract birds bees and butterflies..Since, it has worked for me and now have a small haven for wildlife as Mule deer come and eat the rough graases that are not welcome..
    Living in the wilderness is alot of work, but the rewards are worth it..Seeing Loons and Bald Eagles everyday and having different species of birds come year round can help to make your living garden worth while..It does take some work but the end results are what you are looking for..Have been in wildlife all my life I have had a wonderful time and look forward to everyday with birds and animals in my life..

    Lee Sollenberger
    Big Lake Ranch,BC

    • says

      Lee, your place sounds wonderful (for you and for the wildlife)! I was just in Maine and I took great delight in watching the Loons on the lake right outside the house I was staying in. What beautiful birds they are :)

  3. R. rusty Avery says

    I have a truly native acre I don’t do anything back there.. I don’t even cut the grasses as is requirred by law here in Ca. I live in a rual area where I am to cut a 400 foot area for fire safty. I do take care of the 400ft near the buildings the rest is wild and not touched except when I need to take care of downed trees. I know that the deer have their fawns back there and other wild creatures live back there..and thats ok with me..rusty

  4. Nancy says

    I have a problem with my wildlife. How to you keep the rabbits from eating all the flowers in the yard. I love them but… they are eating all my wildflower sunflowers. Nothing but stems left. They will never bloom. There is plenty of clover and other stuff for them to in the this 1.17acre plot.

  5. laurentius says

    We have always been thrilled when great herons come to our pond — but imagine our delight when a beautiful red fox wandered over one day for a nice, long drink! He turned his head toward the house (he could not see us behind the curtain), continued drinking, and then trotted away under the magnolia tree and was gone. We live in the city limits, but our property is an acre, and there is a small wooded area next to us. We have encountered possums and raccoons but never dreamed of being visited by a red fox!

  6. says

    We have just over an acer of property that is total landscaped for wildlife. We have a Mulberry Tree and Mt. Ash that the Blue Jays, Robins, Catbirds love when the berries start to come in. There a several nesting boxes that are used by the House Wren, Chickadees, and titmice; we even have a pair of Robins nesting in our Butterfly Bush, a pair of Cardinals nesting in a wild rose bush. In our small pond (wish it were bigger) we have frogs and fish; I like to sit and watch and see how many I can find, each day is different. The frogs even come out and sit in my vegtable garden to catch anything that happens by; the dragon flys should be showing up soon. There are many flowers for the butterflys, we have a patch of Milldweed for the Monarchs, last year I watched 15 Monarchs “hatch”. We try to get rid of all invasive plants and plant native ones .


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