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Attract Wildlife to Your Landscape With Trees and Shrubs Full Guide of 2023

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trees and shrubs that attract wildlife to your landscapeAre you looking to attract wildlife to your landscape? Trees and shrubs provide the perfect habitat for birds, butterflies, small mammals, and pollinating insects. By selecting native species that offer food sources throughout the year and creating a landscaping design which mimics natural groupings of plants in their environment, you can create an inviting home for wildlife while also improving your outdoor space.

Key Takeaways

  • Attract wildlife with native trees and shrubs.
  • Prioritize indigenous species for biodiversity.
  • Native plants provide food, shelter, and nesting sites.
  • Fruit trees like dogwoods and crabapples attract birds.

Selecting Trees and Shrubs

Selecting Trees and Shrubs
When selecting trees and shrubs for your landscape, focus on native species that provide year-round food sources and shelter and nesting sites. Dogwoods, spicebushes, and crabapples offer spring flowers, summer fruits, autumn hues, and winter berries to lure birds and pollinators through the seasons while also furnishing sites for constructing nests and rearing young.

Native Species

My friend, carefully selecting native trees and shrubs for your landscape will naturally entice local wildlife to visit. Focus on trees like oaks, maples, and hickories as well as shrubs like blueberries, viburnums, and dogwoods.

Prioritizing plants indigenous to your region fosters essential habitat and food sources for wildlife while promoting natural biodiversity. Thoughtfully designed native landscapes invite wonderful wildlife activity throughout the year.

Year-Round Food Sources

Expand your wildlife-friendly landscape with plant selections that provide year-round nourishment. Select trees and shrubs that bloom or bear fruit in spring, summer, fall, and winter. Native options like serviceberry, chokecherry, maple, oak, and juniper offer seasonal interest while sustaining birds, pollinators, and other wildlife.

Diversify plantings for continuous habitat and fascination when engaging in wildlife watching.

Shelter and Nesting Sites

You’d benefit your local wildlife by maintaining natural cavities and fallen logs on your property. Though unsightly, they offer essential nesting sites and shelter for many species. Shrubs, thickets, and evergreen trees provide cover for ground-nesting birds and small mammals.

Leave some standing dead trees and rotting logs for cavity-nesters. Include dogwoods and spicebush to support nest building.

Creating a Wildlife-Friendly Landscape Design

Creating a Wildlife-Friendly Landscape Design
You can attract more wildlife to your yard by mimicking natural plant groupings, protecting existing habitat, and creating cover and nesting opportunities. When planning your landscape, group plants in a way that is similar to nearby woods, preserve existing trees and shrubs during construction, and incorporate features like fallen logs, rock piles, and nest boxes that provide shelter and breeding sites for birds and other animals.

Varying plant heights, densities, and species creates a more natural look. Use native plants adapted to your region, as these support local wildlife. Avoid invasive species that can overwhelm native habitat. With thoughtful design, you can create an attractive landscape that welcomes wildlife.

Mimicking Natural Groupings

Next up, place trees and shrubs together as they grow in the wild to give wildlife a natural feel. Mimic nature’s biodiversity by clustering plant species in your yard. Preserve existing habitat and enhance it by adding native trees and shrubs suited for your region.

Groupings of woody plants create inviting, wildlife-friendly clusters. Thoughtful ecosystem mimicry through native plant selection brings nature home.

Protecting Existing Plants

Bulldozers and construction machines can deeply damage tree roots and cause irreparable harm to existing habitat, so you should protect your established plants during any building projects. When planning landscaping or construction, take steps to safeguard existing trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcover.

Identifying and fencing off priority conservation areas before breaking ground will help preserve vital habitat and maintain landscape sustainability. Thoughtful planning allows you to improve wildlife value while avoiding permanent damage to mature trees or rare native species already enriching your property.

Creating Cover and Nesting Opportunities

Check for logs, brush, and rock piles that offer cover and nesting spots for wildlife after protecting existing habitat during construction. Creating hideaways, nesting nooks, wildlife retreats, sheltered havens, and cozy nesting spots from fallen trees, brush piles, and rock piles allows animals like birds to find vital nest sites and cover.

Trees and shrubs suited for your location, when planted properly, can become future nesting sites and sheltered havens as part of a thoughtfully designed habitat improvement plan.

Planting and Caring for Trees and Shrubs

Planting and Caring for Trees and Shrubs
Hi there! Let’s talk about some important considerations when selecting and planting trees and shrubs to attract wildlife to your landscape. First, you’ll want to determine the site conditions and requirements for any plants you choose.

This includes the mature size of the tree or shrub, its preferred sun exposure, and any specific soil type or pH it needs. With an understanding of these factors, you can pick native species well-suited to the unique conditions of your yard that will thrive and provide excellent habitat.

Determining Plant Requirements

Making your first priority getting the right moisture levels and sunlight exposure when choosing plants, because even the finest seedling won’t thrive in the wrong home. When picking trees and shrubs, research which wildlife they’ll attract. Follow planting guidelines for your region and choose species suited to your soil.

Consider sunlight needs – some thrive in full sun while others prefer shade. Picking plants matched to your conditions helps create an inviting habitat for local creatures.

Mature Size and Preferred Exposure

Before selecting trees and shrubs, visualize their full-grown size and light requirements in your yard to ensure proper spacing and exposure. Consider a tree’s mature height and spread when siting it—an oak tree may eventually grow 60-100 feet tall and wide.

Also factor in a plant’s preferred sun exposure, as some thrive in full sun while others prefer partial shade. With planning, you can create a balanced landscape that allows each tree and shrub to mature gracefully in its ideal conditions.

Soil Type and PH Preferences

When selecting trees and shrubs, it’s important to consider each plant’s preferred soil type and pH range, as matching the soil conditions to the plant’s needs is crucial for good health and growth. For instance, azaleas prefer acidic soil, so you’d need to amend the soil if planting them in an area with neutral or alkaline soil.

When choosing plants, research their ideal soil compatibility and pH requirements to ensure success after planting. Providing the proper nutrient balance and pH will allow trees and shrubs to thrive in your wildlife-friendly landscape.

Benefits of Native Trees and Shrubs for Wildlife

Benefits of Native Trees and Shrubs for Wildlife
You can attract and support a variety of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife by incorporating native trees and shrubs into your landscape. These plants provide essential food sources, such as berries, seeds, and nectar, as well as shelter and nesting sites that are vital for breeding and raising young.

Native plants have co-evolved with local wildlife over thousands of years, so they are especially well-adapted to providing the habitat components and food sources needed. The diversity of native plants supports a wider diversity of wildlife compared to non-native landscape plants.

By choosing a variety of native trees, shrubs, and flowering plants, you can create an oasis for wildlife right in your own yard.

Food Sources for Birds and Wildlife

Fruiting trees and shrubs will supply birds and wildlife with natural food sources right in your backyard.

  • Dogwoods offer spring berries.
  • Crabapples produce persistent fruit into winter.
  • Spicebush provides fall berries for hungry migrants.
  • Hawthorn bears fruit late when other food is scarce.

Supporting Pollinators and Butterflies

Plant species that supply nectar for pollinators like native bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds are vital for maintaining their populations, though it may be tempting to skip over them. When planning a butterfly garden, include caterpillar host plants like milkweed for Monarchs alongside nectar sources such as Joe Pye Weed.

By selecting native trees and shrubs suited to your region that provide butterfly habitat, you can naturally attract more pollinators and butterflies to your landscape.

Providing Shelter and Nesting Opportunities

Fallen logs and brush piles lend small mammals cozy nooks for nesting right in your yard.

  • Hollow logs
  • Rock piles
  • Thick understory
  • Dense shrubs
  • Clumping grasses

Creating inviting spaces for wildlife to nest and find refuge fosters a sense of belonging in your backyard oasis. Native trees and shrubs transform your landscape into a nurturing habitat for local species seeking sheltered sanctuaries.

Incorporating Trees and Shrubs for Specific Wildlife

Incorporating Trees and Shrubs for Specific Wildlife
By including native trees like oaks, maples, and fruit-bearing shrubs in your landscape, you can attract colorful songbirds while also supporting butterflies, bees, and small mammals like chipmunks with shelter and food sources.

Focus on plant selections like dogwoods, violets, and asters when planning wooded areas to draw a diverse array of wildlife to your property throughout the seasons.

Attracting Birds

You would do well to scatter bird feeders near cover for visiting birds in your yard.

Attracting birds in your wooded landscape takes planning. Choose trees and shrubs that provide food, shelter, and nesting habitat.

Common Name Scientific Name Key Benefits
Serviceberry Amelanchier arborea Berries, nesting sites
Flowering dogwood Cornus florida Fruit, nesting sites
Eastern redcedar Juniperus virginiana Shelter, berries
Blackgum Nyssa sylvatica Fruit, nesting cavities
Eastern redbud Cercis canadensis Seeds, nesting sites

With mindful plant selection and placement, your yard can become an oasis for resident and migratory birds.

Supporting Butterflies and Pollinators

You’ll want to incorporate native flowering plants that provide nectar sources to support butterflies and other pollinators.

  1. Milkweeds, asters, and goldenrods provide vital nectar.
  2. Native flowering shrubs like buttonbush and sumac attract pollinators.
  3. Select a variety of colors, shapes, and bloom times to support diverse pollinators.

When designing your garden, include woody and herbaceous plants that supply pollen and nectar for butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and beneficial insects. Research native species for your region to create an ecologically friendly habitat.

Creating Habitat for Small Mammals

You must ensure brush piles and rock piles exist for small mammals to utilize for cover and nesting habitats within your wildlife-friendly landscape. Ground squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and mice will appreciate the shelter options your native plantings provide.

Allow leaf litter and vegetation debris to accumulate because they offer insulation. Plant clusters of low-growing shrubs and trees to create protective spaces. Habitat for small mammals is key for sustaining predators like hawks and foxes.

Maintaining a Wildlife-Friendly Landscape

Maintaining a Wildlife-Friendly Landscape
Maintaining a wildlife-friendly landscape requires proper irrigation and avoiding harmful pesticides. Watering plantings deeply and irregularly encourages deep root systems. Eliminating unnecessary chemicals by using organic fertilizers or none at all minimizes the impact on insects and other animals.

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Watering and Fertilizing

Regularly monitor and care for native plants with proper watering and occasional fertilization to maintain their health and ability to support wildlife.

  1. Test soil moisture before watering and aim for deep weekly soakings rather than frequent light waterings.
  2. Apply organic or slow-release fertilizer only if needed according to soil tests.
  3. Prune shrubs and trees minimally to protect wildlife habitat.

Thoughtfully nourishing trees, shrubs and soil with water and occasional fertilizer preserves precious wildlife resources while sustainably using the space.

Minimizing Pesticide Usage

Following conservation practices, minimizing pesticide usage in your care routine helps nurture beneficial insects like butterflies visiting native wildflowers. Limit broad-spectrum insecticides that harm butterflies, bees, and bats. Seek eco-friendly pest solutions like natural oils or microbial insecticides.

Promote natural predators to manage pests. Birds, bats, and beneficial insects thrive in a pesticide-free habitat with ample food sources from native trees, shrubs, and flowering plants that attract wildlife to your landscape.


So there you have it – a comprehensive guide to creating a wildlife-friendly landscape with trees and shrubs. Not only can you add beauty to your property, but you can also help local wildlife by providing food, shelter, and nesting spots.

Native species are especially good for wildlife since they’re adapted to the climate and will likely survive and keep providing resources. Plus, you can feel good knowing your landscape helps maintain a healthy, diverse ecosystem.

What’re you waiting for? Get out there and start planting trees and shrubs to bring wildlife to your landscape!

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.