ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Attract Wildlife To Your Garden For Beginners

Updated on June 30, 2011

Once you know the basics of wildlife gardening, it is very easy to attract beautiful butterflies, birds and other wildlife to your garden.

All wildlife visitors are looking for three things:

  1. Food
  2. Water
  3. Shelter

If you provide these three things, it will be easy to attract wildlife even to the smallest of city gardens.


All wildlife needs a steady source of water. This can be as easy as planting a few large leafed plants such as the Midwest native wildflower cupplant (Silphium perfoliatum) or leaf lettuce, suspending a dripping milk carton over a platter or a patch of bare dirt, or keeping a birdbath (preferably heated for a year round water supply).

A more expensive option is to install a pond or other water garden on your property. These can range in size from a small barrel to a lake big enough to swim or canoe.

Cedar waxwings love crabapples. Photo by BobMacInnes.
Cedar waxwings love crabapples. Photo by BobMacInnes.


Different kinds of wildlife have different food needs and the best way to ensure you attract as many different species as possible is to plant as many different kinds of plants in your garden as you can. The most important food sources for wildlife include:

  • Flowering plants. Flowers attract butterflies and other insects, which are beautiful and fascinating visitors in their own right, as well as birds and other animals who like to eat insects. Some flowering plants also produce seeds that attract seed-eating birds and other animals. Try to have at least one type of flower blooming in your garden every week from April to September.
  • Nut and berry producing trees and shrubs. Nuts, pine nuts, acorns, and berries will attract many birds and small mammals to enjoy the bounty. But be careful - some berries are only ornamental and are too bitter or poisonous to attract wildlife.
  • Native plants. In general, native plants are the best choice to attract local wildlife because the local wildlife evolved alongside them. In fact, many insect herbivores such as caterpillars (which turn into butterflies and are also an important protein source for many birds) are so specialized that they can ONLY survive on native plants or their close relatives.

You can also provide food artificially, with bird feeders and other feeders.


Shelter is also an important need for wildlife. The key to providing shelter for wildlife is to provide a diverse mix of habitats from the ground up. For example:

  • Mulch and other groundcovers protects earthworms and other soil life from overheating or surprise frosts.
  • Dense plantings of perennial flowers and grasses provide shelter for many insects and other creatures.
  • A brush pile or rotting log shelters everything from microrganisms to birds and small mammals.
  • Shrubs and small trees provide nesting habitat for many birds.
  • Other birds prefer large trees. If possible, plant a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees to provide both summer and winter protection.

Many types of wildlife also welcome man-made housing, such as bird or bat houses.

Another aspect of shelter for wildlife is shelter from chemical pesticides and other poisons that can harm or kill them.

If you are interested in attracting wildlife to your yard, it is very important to minimize your use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides, all of which can be dangerous to wildlife.

If you use organic gardening methods, you will often find that the wildlife you attract will repay your consideration by taking care of pest problems themselves. When left to their own devices, birds and beneficial insects such as ladybugs often do a better job of controlling pests than chemicals do!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Ben Helm 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for the recommendation. My book is packed full of helpful advice - but so is my website of the same name:

      Helpful advice and information on installing a pond, keeping fish and koi, pond pumps, filters and keeping a pnd free of algae and blanketweed.

      Best wishes - Love your site

      Ben Helm

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image

      Ultimate Hubber 

      8 years ago

      I have a kind of flowers in my garden, that attract a lot of birds. They are orange colored but don't know their scientific or common name. I think the birds are attracted for their nectar.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your well written hub and giving such good tips.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      8 years ago from Northern, California

      I have a very large backyard that is plush with trees, plants, vegetables, flowers, mulch pile and watering sytem. All of which, as you explain draw in wildlife...

      I have a vast number of birds, friendly squerrells (although my dog would say otherwise)buzzing draonflys and butterflys. I highly recommend taking the time to bring this experience to your home! Makes wonderful photo ops and is delightful to sit among and observe.

      Thanks for the cool read.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)