Go Wild! Wildscape That Is

Imagine butterflies filling your backyard with moving color, or witness the arrival of birds settling in for the winter. You can add ingredients to your landscape and turn it into a feast for wildlife, too by turning it into a wildscape.

The basic ingredients to a great wildscape include:

  • Food — Select plants that provide a variety of seeds, buds, fruit, nectar and pollen. Winter food is especially important so include plants with berries.
  • Water — You’ll be saving so much water from reduced irrigation needs that you can afford to have a bird bath, shallow wide-brimmed dish or a pond. Place water away from thick brush so birds can’t be ambushed by the neighbor’s cat.
  • Cover — Wildlife needs shelter. Densely branched shrubs, understory, hollow logs, small brush piles and trees of various sizes provide feeding, cover and nesting opportunities for many species.

To complete your habitat, provide special areas for courtship and a place to raise young. Bird houses and nesting shelves are good in the absence of dense cover. Also, be sure to keep cats inside, especially during the spring when baby birds are fledging.

A carefully planned wildscape will have no need for pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Select and maintain native plants as they generally have fewer pest problems. Use organic gardening techniques. Learn to recognize and care for your natural pest controllers: ladybugs, wasps, birds and bats. If you must intervene, remove pests by hand or spray them with water.

If you must use pesticides, start with the least toxic and use with care. They not only kill bad bugs, but good ones too and pesticides contribute to pollution in our rivers, creeks and ground water when misused. Control weeds with liberal mulching, dense planting and proper soil care.

Picture of Dana Nichols
Dana Nichols
As conservation manager at SAWS, Dana spent her days promoting beautiful San Antonio landscapes that need little to no water while benefiting Texas wildlife. While she’s no longer whipping up new landscape programs, she’s still cooking up delicious dinners made with fresh herbs from her low-water-use garden or planning the next trip with her husband, Rick -- preferably to some exotic place that requires a passport.
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