Get this: when you’re building a garden, you’re actually building a microecosystem! Just like in a natural ecosystem, all the different components of your garden interact with each other in complex ways. Because of this, the choices you make in the design stage determine what will live in your yard, including types of plants, insects, and other forms of wildlife. All of these factors are the groundwork for a self-sustaining community, whether you’re consciously aware of it or not.
Since you have a garden, after all, you might be thinking you don’t want certain wildlife, such as gophers digging into your dirt. Fair enough. But some creatures, like birds and butterflies, are highly beneficial to your garden. We’ll cover why birds and butterflies are good your garden, and tips and tricks to make them a healthy part of your yard’s vibrant microecosystem. Read on, and soon you and these creatures will be like birds of a feather.
The Benefits of Attracting Birds and Butterflies to Your Garden
Birds and butterflies are not just pretty to look at—though they do bring color and life to your garden, which makes it significantly more beautiful. In addition to beauty, here are some of the other benefits these small creatures have to offer your home.
Birds and Butterflies Bring Biodiversity
By attracting birds and butterflies to your garden, you’re establishing more overall biodiversity in your area. That’s because you’re not just introducing birds and butterflies, but also their food sources to your yard. It’s one way to support the health of your local ecosystem.
Natural Pest Prevention
Birds have to eat, too, and it’s not just the feeder that they’ll be snacking on. Birds also feed on insects, including many common garden pests, which helps to naturally control these populations and reduce the need for chemical pesticides. (Organic pesticides are the way to go, anyway, and they won’t harm your birds.)
Get In the Know
There’s so much that happens in our backyards without our knowing. But by attracting birds and butterflies to your garden, you have a rich opportunity to learn about different species and their behaviors. Who knows—you might just gain a better appreciation for the natural world.
Tips and Tricks for Designing a Garden that Attracts Birds and Butterflies
The early bird catches the worm! While there are measures you can take to attract birds and butterflies to an existing garden, too, starting the design process with these beneficial creatures in mind will set your garden up for fluttering success. Here are some tips and tricks to get you there.
Diversify, Diversify, Diversify
When you’re choosing plants for your garden, opt for a wide variety. A diverse assortment will attract a wider range of birds and butterflies. Consider planting native species, as they are most suited to your area, and more likely to attract locally native birds and butterflies. These are the species you especially want to support!
If You Put Out Sustenance, They Will Come
Planning a lively garden is sort of like planning a lively party: you should aim to offer the right refreshments (in this case, food and water) for your guests. For birds, you’ll want to provide the right type of birdseed for the species you’re attracting—usually, they’re listed right on the packaging. For butterflies, simply put out some nectar. Just make sure that you secure any snacks up high and isolated, such as hanging from a tree, so that only creatures with wings can reach it.
For water, consider a shallow birdbath or a dish filled with water and stones. When putting out water, keep it far away from where predators might be lurking, such as cats. And you’d better change that water regularly, or you might be dealing with some nasty algae.
Give Them Shelter
Let’s take a step back to landscaping. When planning out your garden, consider opting for some larger plants, such as shrubs, bushes, and trees. These will provide cover for your birds and butterflies, which will give them a greater sense of safety and keep them around. Already finished landscaping? You can also simply add birdhouses and butterfly boxes throughout your garden.
Sun and Shade Wisely
Another element that those larger plants in your garden offer is shade. But not all birds and butterflies like shade—some actually prefer the sun. So in keeping with the theme of diversify, diversify, diversify: include a mix of both sun and shade in your garden.
Put Your Plants Together
All together now. Depending on your landscaping style, you might be tempted to space out your plants. But it’s actually better for birds and butterflies if you plant in clusters. This creates a more inviting environment for birds and butterflies, because it means that they can flitter about a little more undisturbed. And who can blame them? We don’t like to be interrupted too much when we’re at work, either.
No Chemical Pesticides!
One more time: no chemical pesticides! Not only are they harmful to birds and butterflies flying through your garden, but they also hurt the microorganisms that keep your soil healthy and fertile.
Organic pesticides are a much better option, but they should still be used sparingly—they can still be a little too intense to some beneficial life forms. Some organic pesticides to consider are neem oil, a bacteria called bacillus thuringiensis, pyrethrin derived from chrysanthemum flowers, and soap sprays.
You can also use natural pest control methods. One common way to do this is companion planting, the practice of planting certain plants near each other that have insect-repelling properties, such as basil and tomatoes. You can also encourage the presence of beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps, which feed on garden pests.
One Way to Attract Birds and Butterflies: Healthy Soil!
A sure way to attract birds and butterflies naturally is to have a healthy garden—and that starts in the soil. Well-nourished soil provides essential nutrients for plants to grow, which in turn provides food and shelter for birds and butterflies, as well as supports a more diverse habitat for wildlife
In order to achieve healthy soil with consistency, try the OtO device, an automatic lawn treatment that waters your garden, applies nutrients, and more. The OtO device uses real-time local and regional weather, windspeed, humidity, and temperature data to actively adjust its schedule and deliver the perfect amount of water to your garden. Plus, it applies liquid and organic fertilizer and other treatments, such as tick and mosquito control. Different plants in different zones across your garden? No problem! You can program the OtO device using your smartphone to adjust water to each section’s needs.
With the help of this device and a little knowledge about how to attract friendly flyers, your garden is sure to be lush and lively—all the more rewarding to sit back and enjoy.