ATTRACTING BIRDS & BUTTERFLIES TO YOUR WATER GARDEN
Backyard living is at an all-time high in popularity. It seems that, in our high-tech society, everyone wants to get ‘outside’ and enjoy the simpler low-tech pleasures. Nothing is better than sitting in a backyard by a water garden and watching the birds and butterflies at play. Many different types of birds visit our water garden and stream on any given day, and in the summertime the butterflies abound! They eat, play, nest and bathe… and in the process we (and all of our neighbors who walk by our front-yard stream) get to enjoy the gifts of nature.
Living and Working with Mother Nature
Like ALL living things, these beneficial creatures need certain basic things to live and prosper: food, organic healthy water, shelter, and places to raise young. If you provide these things, you will see your new friends moving in almost overnight.
Want to increase the number of birds and butterflies in your landscape? Here are some brief hints:
Plant some native trees, shrubs and flowers. Using the right plants will provide places for shelter, nesting and food & will add beauty to your landscape. The great thing is, many of the plants that shelter and feed the birds and butterflies are native plants. Most of these natives are long-lived, drought hardy, and insect and disease resistant. For more information on exactly what plants to choose, contact the Arizona Master Gardners if you’re planning to do it yourself, or Harper’s Nursery for a professional design.
Put in a water garden. We must ALL have water to live. Your water feature can be as simple as a bird bath (which needs to be cleaned daily for health reasons) or as large as a custom re-circulating waterfall, water garden or rainwater harvesting feature. The main thing to remember is that birds like shallow water for bathing and drinking (2″ to 4″) butterflies like a “seep” (wet rock or ground). Think about your overall landscape design and get some water in the mix! As a bonus, your kids/grandkids will really engage with a water garden. For more information on water gardens, START HERE.
Put up some feeders. Putting up a few feeders will almost immediately draw in some new visitors. Platform feeders are great for black oil sunflower seeds, fruit, bread, nuts, and more — remember to clean and replenish them often. Tube feeders and socks are perfect for black thistle (a Finch favorite). A large hopper-type feeder is great for general feeding and can be filled every few days with an inexpensive song bird mix. Suet feeders can be hung or mounted almost anywhere. AND don’t forget the Hummingbirds! There are even Butterfly feeders that you can put nectar and fresh fruit in to attract and feed butterflies. Spread your feeders out a bit around your outdoor living/viewing area. It will give you multiple viewing opportunities and it will give the birds a bit of room to move around.
Put up some bird and butterfly houses. Some birds require housing to get their attention! Some birds are particular on the placement, color, and construction of these houses, so do some research on the birds in your area and what they like/need. If you get it right, you will be blessed with some AWESOME birds that will eat their weight in insects and thrill you daily with their beauty and grace. And don’t forget the Butterflies! A butterfly house makes for a fun conversation piece and is a really unique addition to your garden.
Want to help the environment and make your little critters healthier and happier? Think organic! Pesticides and other garden chemicals are VERY harmful to birds and beneficial Insects! It’s not easy being green, BUT it’s not that hard either. Try to use organic alternatives like neem oil, insecticidal soap, dormant oil and non-chemical fertilizers (or, better yet, compost). You will notice a difference in the quality of your garden AND in the quality of your life! An organic, living water garden will naturally attract beneficial creatures to your yard for integrated pest management.
You Can Do It!
Enjoying the abundance of nature is awesome and it’s not all that difficult. In fact, if you do some of these things, you will see an immediate increase in the number of birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects (like dragonflies and damselflies) in your landscape. These beneficial creatures will make your flowers more beautiful, your vegetables more productive, and your life more abundant!