Your landscape IS an ecosystem, and it behaves like an ecosystem, whether you think about your piece of paradise in such terms or not. Most gardening problems/difficulties and hard work stem from not understanding or downright ignoring this fact. Want a “low maintenance” landscape? Thinking about your garden as a habitat might help.
A LOT of things have been written on the topic of why you want to encourage or attract wildlife to the yard. Everything from expanding urbanization and reduced natural habitat, to decreasing biodiversity and increasing spread of exotic aggressive species, to name a few reasons. For Wellfield, the “wildlife” around us becomes key to an organically preferred approach: protecting Elkhart’s drinking water (you do know Wellfield’s relationship to Elkhart’s water supply, right?). We rely on the balancing and resilient effects of ecosystems to hold many things in check, thus reducing our dependence on expensive fertilizer or plant health control measures.
There are four essential ingredients to making habitat work for you:
- Diverse food sources
- Diverse water sources
- Diverse shelter types(a place to hide)
- Diverse locations to raise some babies
You probably can guess what the keyword might be. Yep, that is right: “diverse”. It is not enough just to put out a birdbath and check off “water source”. Not everything is going to visit the perch. Different organisms obtain moisture from different sources. If you plant a lot of different species, native especially, of various sizes, textures, root types, and plant them in layers, you are doing much already to provide these four elements.
In the coming weeks, we will take up each of these essential ingredients and examine them in turn.
Wildlife is already present outside your windows, whether you want them or not. You can either partner with them to create some win-win relationships, or you can spend a lot of time, energy and cash to banish them to your neighbor’s kingdom.
Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager
Miss any of Josh and his team’s latest posts? Click below to see what you’ve missed!
- Pull a Weed, Save a FrogFrogs and toads are key members of any healthy ecosystem. What can you do to help protect and keep them in yours? Continue reading
- May Day and…Boot Camp?Now is a great time to start your vegetable garden! Our Ecological Boot Camp starts May 4th. Continue reading
- Mow High – I mean really high!!!!Originally posted on Wellfield Botanic Gardens:
No, this is not an endorsement for certain recreational activities, but rather a little encouragement as the dog days of summer (which really have nothing to do with man’s best friend, but that’s another story) settle in. I feel so strongly about this topic, I’m even going to reiterate some…
- Wild Yards: Conflict Management the Wild WayWhat do you do when the wildlife in your yard gets too wild? Josh offers some ways to cope. Continue reading
- Wild Yards: Give Me Shelter, Or Give Me Death!Our “Wild Yard” biodiversity series continues; today, Lead Horticulturalist Amy talks about ways to provide shelter for wildlife in your yard, to ensure you are attracting a wide range of wildlife. Continue reading
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