5 Reasons To Create a Certified Wildlife Habitat in Your Garden

We live in downtown Albuquerque, not far from the Rio Grande Bosque State Park.  In about 15 minutes I can walk to a beautiful riparian habitat filled with egrets, herons, song birds, porcupines, beavers and muskrats.  While we can’t get the fabulous water birds in our yard, we can create a wildlife habitat at home that brings in songbirds, lizards and other wild things.

I can practically see your eyebrows raising as you read this.  Why on earth would we want to do that?  Doesn’t wildlife = cat eating coyotes and smelly skunks?  How does this benefit a city dweller?  We’ll start with the five most obvious ways

  1. Year Round Beauty:  a backyard wildlife habitat has a wide range color and texture that changes throughout the year.

2.    Low Maintenance:  If you choose native plants or non-natives that are appropriate to your location, you’ll spend less time watering, mowing, and taking care of it in general

3.  Natural Pest Control: A healthy eco-system isn’t over run by bugs bent on ravaging     your veggies.  The whole circle of life is happening right there in the garden without any interference on your part

4.  Free entertainment:  Watching the hummingbirds battle it out over the feeder like tiny fighter jets is way better than any war movie

5. Helps Protect Our Native Birds and Other Wildlife:  Urban development is happening at ever increasing speed, often with little thought of its effects on the non-human world.  We can help to mitigate some of the damage we cause by using native plants and taking care of our winged and wild neighbors.

To create this little urban oasis, you need 4 things:

Food: put out a bird feeder or plant sunflowers.

Cover: anyplace where critters can hide from predators is good.  We have a butterfly bush, and a huge rosemary where sparrows like to hide.

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Butterfly Bush

Water:  a bird bath or a fountain. Bees and lizards will appreciate it too.  You might also be visited by thirsty mammals.

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Our birdbath under the Desert Willow. The rocks are there so that the bees have a place to land and get a drink.

Places to raise young:  trees or shrubs for nesting, bat boxes, bird houses etc.  Often, the cover and food source will also serve as the place to raise babies.

It doesn’t take much by way of effort or resources.  You may already be doing these things in your garden without any special recognition.  If you really love this process and want to tell the world what you are doing, you can register your backyard habitat with the National Wildlife Federation for $25 and they’ll send you a sign to put in your yard.  This donation will help them in their work to protect wildlife and habitat, advocate for the environment and confront climate change and make you look super-green to your neighbors.

July To-Do

July To-Do List

There really isn’t much to do in July.  Here in zone 7, the tomatoes, squash and peppers are starting to come in.  It’s really too hot to do much planting outdoors and pruning is too stressful on the plants. However, beans, corn and fast maturing squash can still go in the ground.  July is really about observing, maintaining and thinking about fall.

  1. Start thinking about cool weather veggies like kale, lettuce, and other greens as well as carrots and some root vegetables.  Make a wish list of what you’d like to eat fresh in the winter months and keep it on your fridge.cabbage
  2. It’s a good time to order seed potatoes.
  3. Plant fast maturing squash, melons, beans and corn if you live in zones 7 and plus.
  4. The bulb catalogs are coming out and some of them are give pretty steep discounts.  None of us want to think about February and March while we’re lounging under the shade tree with a cold beverage but you’ll be glad you did when those first spring flowers come poking up out of the ground.  Get your daffodils and tulips ordered now.  Breck’s is my bulb company of choice right now, though I’m always looking around for other eye candy.
  5. Keep an eye on your plants for caterpillars and other bugs that might do serious damage to your garden and remove what you can.
  6. Read a new gardening book.  I’m waiting on a book on landscaping with native plants by Judith Phillips.  She’s a local garden designer and expert on using plants that are appropriate for the Southwest.
  7. Try new recipes for your fresh veggies.  Really.  You need to figure out what to do with all that zucchini.
  8. Sit in your garden and watch.  Keep a little diary of what’s working and what needs to change for next year.
  9. Even though it’s hot, don’t overwater your trees and perennials.  Once every 10 days is still fine.  They’ll be forced to develop a sturdier root system.
  10. Put a bird bath or small fountain in your garden.  Having a water source nearby will keep the birds from devouring your fruits and juicy tomatoes.  Its also fun to watch them splash around and stay cool.

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    Our birdbath
  11. If you haven’t already done it, mulch!  We have bark everywhere we have plants right now but are going to be removing the bark around the veggies and replacing it with straw.  Mulch will keep the roots cooler and slow down evaporation so that water stays where it needs to be.http___www.lifeofpix.com_wp-content_uploads_2017_06_bolet-pinassa-444