Wildlife Garden Design

Wildlife-Design_Jenny_Brausch

 

Wildlife Garden Design

2013 Benton SWCD Native Plant Sale

By Jenny Brausch, Living Green Nursery, LLC [541-971-1297]

 

This year’s sample landscape design for the Benton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s native plant sale is designed to provide support for a variety of wildlife. The key ingredients to a healthy wildlife environment are shelter, food and water. This design incorporates all three of these important features.

The first essential piece of this wildlife-friendly landscape is the plants. I incorporated a hedgerow, which will provide two of the three essentials that animals need; food and shelter. A hedgerow or thicket is a row of shrubs that are closely spaced and are used to act as a fence or wind break. Wildlife is drawn to a hedgerow because it provides cover and protection from predators. With the right plants, it will also provide food in the form of berries, nectar and leaves. It’s important that the plant pallet is diverse and has seasonal food sources to maintain a variety of animals throughout the year. I designed a hedgerow consisting of hazelnut, elderberry, Oregon grape, Indian plum, salal, snowberry, serviceberry, sword fern and currant. Indian plum and currant are early nectar sources for hummingbirds. The Indian plum is dioecious so a male and female plant will need to be included in order to set fruit. Hazelnuts are eaten by squirrels and Stellar’s jays (Link, 1999). The berries are all favorites of birds and mammals and pollinators will appreciate the flowers. The plant combinations in this hedgerow will provide a mixture of deciduous and evergreen shrubs of varying height with lots of places for wildlife to hide out and forage.

In a recent article of Pacific Horticulture Magazine, I read of a unique use of windfall tree and shrub materials. The author explained how he created a fence out of downed trees on his property (Graves, 2012). I borrowed on this idea to design into the space two sections of compost fencing or what could be called wildlife condos. These condos are made with 6 – 8’ tall 4×6 posts of reclaimed juniper or cedar set two feet in the ground in concrete. The posts are placed as shown in the accompanying design.  Each unit will consist of eight posts one at each corner and four in the bend of a three dimensional ‘L’ shape. Sturdy, welded-wire horse fencing, as tall as the posts, is wrapped around the uprights and secured in place with u-shaped nails. When finished, you will have a structure 1.5 – 2 feet wide with each outer leg 8 feet long. Within each condo is placed downed branches and logs. You may need to cut up the logs and branches to fit into the space. Be creative with the placement of the wood by varying their orientation to make it visually appealing when viewed through the wire. The slowly decomposing plant material will provide habitat for insects, birds and small animals. Be sure to locate a structure like this far enough away from your home or out buildings as it may attract termites and carpenter ants.

The final element of this design is a water feature. I designed a small 10’ x 5’ pond 1.5’ – 2’ deep with a small waterfall. The waterfall will help attract animals through its sound. On one edge of the pond is located a sand or gravel beach that gradually slopes into the water. This will provide a relatively level area for small animals and birds to walk into it for a drink. Boulders placed in and around the feature will serve as reptile and insect habitat. I surrounded the water feature with grass, bulbs and ferns, adding in some monkey flower along the sand bank and a red-osier dogwood for good measure. Water features require regular maintenance to keep them clean and clear for the health of animal life. They also take time to install and are a considerable expense so it’s important to do your research when installing or better yet, hire a reputable, licensed landscape contractor to install one.  Providing beneficial habitat for your creepy-crawly, furry and feathered friends will make yours the favorite yard on the block. Attracting ‘the good’ and ‘the bad’ is all part of the package. So with that in mind, one of the most important things you can do to support a wildlife friendly garden is to refrain from using pesticides. Many pesticides are non-selective, meaning they will affect all pests, good and bad. So allow nature to follow its course; with the pest will also come the predator.

This document is only meant to pique your interest on the topic of landscaping for wildlife. There are many other resources available so I encourage you to read more on the subject. Two of my favorite books are Beth O’Donnell Young’s new book, the naturscaping workbook, and Russell Link’s book, Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. Happy Gardening!

Here is a list of plants in the design:

AC – Acer circinatum – Vine Maple (1)

AM – Achillea millefolium – Yarrow (19)

AF – Aguilegia Formosa – Red Columbine (7)

AA – Amelanchier alnifolia – Serviceberry (1)

BS – Blechnum spicant – Deer Fern (4)

CL – Camassia leichtlinii – Great Camas (16)

CS – Cornus sericea – Red-osier Dogwood (1)

CC – Corylus cornuta – Beaked Hazelnut (1)

DC – Deschampsia ceaspitosa – Tufted Hair Grass (3)

DH – Dodecatheon hendersonii – Broad Leaved Shooting Star (9)

FV – Fragaria vesca – Wood Strawberry (21)

GS – Gaultheria shallon – Salal (5)

IT – Iris tenax – Oregon Iris (11)

LC – Lilium columbianum – Tiger Lily (5)

MA – Mahonia aquifolium – Oregon Grape (2)

MG – Mimulus gutatus – Yellow Monkey Flower (5)

OC – Oemlaria cerasiformis – Indian Plum (1)

PM – Polystichum munitum – Sword Fern (4)

RS – Ribes sanguineum – Red Flowering Currant (2)

SR – Sambucus racemosa – Red Elderberry (1)

SA – Symphoricarpus alba – Snowberry (2)

 

References:

Link, Russell. Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle: University of Washington

Press. 1999

Young, Beth O’Donnell. the naturescaping workbook: a step-by-step guide for bringing nature to

your backyard. Portland: Timber Press. 2011

Graves, Greg. “Compost Happens.” Pacific Horticulture. October 2012 Vol. 73/ No. 04: n. pag. Web. 8

Jan 2013. <http://www.pacifichorticulture.org/articles/comp