Extreme temperatures, drought and storms affect our landscapes. Sometimes a little pruning, proper care, and patience is all it takes to help plants recover. Other times the plants need to be replaced. It is always sad to lose a favorite plant. Memories, time and money invested are lost, but it presents an opportunity to develop something new.
Consider creating a bird-friendly landscape when selecting replacements for failing and dead plants. Working with nature is a great way to support birds without using feeders.
Look for seed-, berry-, and nectar-producing plants that attract songbirds. You will appreciate the color and movement these birds add to your landscape. Plus, 96% of North American landbirds feed on insects, helping you manage garden pests.
Plant bird-friendly flowers, shrubs and trees in clusters whenever possible. This creates an impressive display in the landscape and allows birds to collect food more efficiently and waste less energy traveling between plants.
Select a variety of plants to ensure seasonal and year-round birds have plenty of food. Include a mix of plants that provide seeds, berries, or nectar from spring through fall. These plants are nature’s bird feeders, eliminating the need to clean and refill traditional feeders.
Include native trees, shrubs, and flowers whenever they are suitable for your garden’s growing conditions. Native plants, birds, and insects have co-evolved over time, making it an excellent source of food and shelter for native birds. Audubon’s Native Plant Database provides plant listings tailored to your location.
Consider attractive plants year-round. Evergreens provide screen and backdrop for other plants and shelter for birds. Junipers come in a variety of sizes and shapes and tolerate hot, dry conditions once established. Choose hemlocks for those more shady spots. They need moist, well-drained soil and shelter from wind and winter sun.
Deciduous trees and shrubs—those that lose their leaves in winter—can offer multiple seasons of beauty with flowers, fruit, fall color, and interesting bark. Many of them also provide shelter and food for songbirds. Serviceberries have several seasons of beauty and produce edible fruit that you and the birds will enjoy in June. Dogwood trees, including red twig and pagoda, have flowers for pollinators and late summer fruits for songbirds. Winterberry is an excellent source of winter food. You will need at least one male for every one to five female plants for pollination and fruit formation. Grow them in full sun to light shade and moist acidic soil.
Reduce the risk of injury and the inconvenience of accidentally shutting off power, cable, or other utilities while making bird-friendly additions to the landscape. Contact Diggers Hotline at least three business days before you start planting. Simply call 811 or file a request online at https://call811.com/811-In-Your-State. They will contact all appropriate companies who will mark the location of their underground utilities within the designated work area. August 11 has been declared 811 Day to remind everyone to call 811 before any excavation project.
Your efforts now to welcome birds into your landscape will certainly provide you with much beauty and enjoyment for years to come.
Melinda Myers has written over 20 books on gardening, including the recent Midwest Gardener’s Handbook, 2nd Edition and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD instant video series and the nationally broadcast television and radio show Melinda’s Garden Moment. Myers is a columnist and editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and her website is MelindaMyers.com.