Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gardening Article: Creating a Critter-Friendly Garden

Not all critters that may wander through your garden are bad. Some can actually benefit your garden by fertilizing flowers and plants, by keeping bad bugs away and by making your landscape more attractive. Cut down on your garden maintenance by planting flowers, shrubs and green plants that attract the right kind of animals to your garden.

The Garden Guest List

Where are several animals that get along well with garden plants, you may not enjoy having all of these creatures in your garden. Choose among species on the guest list for help keeping pests out of your garden, but don't feel like you need to have all of these animals in your backyard.

Ladybugs - Not only are ladybugs pretty to look at, they actually eat bad bugs, including aphids. If your roses have suffered aphid infestations in the past, consider getting ladybug help. While yarrow, scented geranium, coriopsis and cosmos attract ladybugs to the garden, you can find "ready to go" ladybugs at your local garden center.

Bees - Honey or otherwise, bees are responsible for pollinating many plants and flowers. If you keep cucumber, melon, squash, eggplant, berries, fruit trees and many other plants, the more bees you attract, the better for your garden! Bees enjoy herbs like thyme, mint, clover, lavender, rosemary and hyssop. As a bonus, you can harvest the herbs for culinary use.

Birds - Birds can be good, but if you have too many you may lose out on fruit and veggies as a result. Nonetheless, birds do eat insects that are bad for the garden. A birdfeeder will certainly draw birds to your yard, and high trees that are perfect for perching or nesting will also attract birds.

Butterflies - Butterflies are so pretty that you may enjoy simply watching them. Buddleia (commonly known as butterfly bush) will draw these winged creatures to your yard, as will clethra, dogwood, witch hazel, honeysuckle, lilac, yarrow, milkweed and lavender.

Lizards - Lizards in the garden? Since they eat irritating pests, they’re beneficial. They like berries and nectar-producing plants, like honeysuckle. Rock and wood piles make natural homes for lizards, so consider landscaping around these.

Frogs - Frogs do double duty, eating both insects and insect larvae. You'll need a wet or boggy area, either natural or manmade, to attract frogs to your garden.

The Critter No-Shows

There are certain animals you definitely do not want in your garden. These include:

  • Rat
  • Mouse
  • Opossum
  • Mole
  • Gopher
  • Chipmunk
  • Squirrel
  • Deer
  • Rabbit
  • Snails and slugs

How can you keep the bad guys away without the use of chemicals that will also deter good creatures? Consider fencing off important garden beds. Chicken wire will keep the big critters out while allowing bugs and birds to fly over or crawl through. Certain compounds deter these animals. Slugs dislike eggshells and copper, so put pennies or crushed eggshell in the garden. Rabbits and deer dislike bloodmeal, so spread it around the yard.

The more time you spend in your garden, the greater your likelihood of noticing some of your garden's new occupants. And the more helpful creatures you attract to the garden, the greater potential for plant health and higher yields of your favorite flowers, fruits and veggies.

Image courtesy of stockphotosforfree.com.

About the author: Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area and she writes on behalf of Sears and other deserving brands. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master's degree.

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