Birds are a great asset to any garden, so consider these five best organic practices for bird gardens to keep them coming back year after year.
5 Best Organic Practices for Bird Gardens
If you want to attract birds to your yard, then you’ll want to incorporate the best organic practices for bird gardens.
And, they are:
1. Seed Naturally
2. Cultivate Responsibly
3. Use Ecological Principals
4. Use Native Plants
5. Avoid Chemicals
Here’s a breakdown on each:
Birds are attracted to gardens that offer the best food, water and shelter. So to tackle the food portion of this equation, you’ll need to offer them access to seeds whenever possible.
Seed plants keep the birds healthy and full of energy all day long.
Of course, you can supplement with purchased birdseed but this really shouldn’t be the only source of food for the birds.
A few of the seed plants of note are grasses and sedges. Besides seeds, these plants also provide places for birds to perch.
Garden Tip: Don’t cut back on these seed sources in the fall. Allow them to remain, so that they’ll be an ongoing food source during the long winter months. Tall plants will also give fliers an elevated view when snow starts to accumulate.
Did you know that a messy garden is a healthy garden? It is. The fact is, over cultivating can cause your favorite birds to pass your yard by.
Why? Because there’s no food source to warrant a look-see. Leaving some leaves in your garden, twigs, here and there, and even some bare spots where worms might show up after a good rain, are all part of the intricacies of organic gardening.
You see, birds love insects, worms, grubs, termites (to name a few) as a source of protein, so decomposing leaves, grass and logs offer a plethora of opportunities to feast.
Garden Tip: Instead of gardening to the nth degree, try allowing some spots to compost naturally for your bird’s sake.
Use Ecological Principles
If you want to attract birds to your garden, then you’re going to need to find alternative ways to keep the plantings and soil as healthy as possible, in other words, use good ecological principles.
What this means for gardeners is that you want to tap into the beneficial organisms and practices that help, not hurt, your feathered friends.
Insects like ladybugs (Ladybird Beetles) provide a natural pest control in your garden. They are just one of many “helpers” that you can enlist to assist in ridding your garden of unwanted pests.
Believe it or not, earthworms are considered “nature’s plow.” And, for good reason. They till up the soil and make air pockets to collect water and nutrients. Sure, they’re squishy and slimy. But your soil loves them and so do the birds.
Compost and Mulch
Two of the easiest ways to fortify your soil for plants is to utilize compost and mulch.
According to garden and lifestyle expert, P. Allen Smith, compost and mulch help your organic garden by adding nutrients to the soil naturally. This is especially important if you’re shooting for a healthy soil. Nutrients like magnesium can be replenished with a little help from good compost. So, the need to fertilize becomes minimal with the ongoing application of compost.
But did you know, that mulch and compost also help reduce the amount of evaporation that naturally occurs on a day-to-day basis? It does.
These two super soakers provide the means for soil to keep moist long after watering has stopped. This helps the plants maintain an ongoing supply of moisture while still providing seeds and fruit to the birds you love.
If you are located in a drought-stricken area, compost and mulch is a no brainer. Water is most likely at a premium and you cannot afford to (or possibly allowed to) water your garden on a daily–or even a weekly–basis. So, finding alternative ways to keep your friendly aviaries happy and healthy is a must.
Another way to incorporate the best ecological principles into your garden is to consider the use of natural fertilizers like epson salt and milorganite. As mentioned above, if you regularly use compost, this shouldn’t really be an issue.
But some soils need to be doctored a bit in order to get them up to snuff–so to speak. Epson salt has been shown to increase growth of vegetable plants by adding necessary magnesium (for good growth).
Another great product and it’s made here locally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is milorganite. Not to get too overly technical, this is a by-product of sewage treatment and offers a great source of iron, among other nutrients, and naturally helps improve soil health organically.
Garden Tip: Keep in mind that regardless of what natural products you do use to help your garden, a little goes a long way. Over doing even something as great as epson salt or even milorganite can be harmful to your feathered friends.
Use Native Plants
A healthy bird garden by its very nature should be a mix of plantings, grasses, plants, trees and shrubs that are bird-friendly.
RELATED: Best Plants for Bird Gardens
Sure, you can incorporate a feeder that will attract your favorite feather friends, but this shouldn’t be the “be all to end all” if you get my drift.
Native plants can stand up to your local and regional weather. It has for thousands of years. So you can trust that these plants will hold their own during even the most extreme weather and climate changes.
Finally, the best organic garden principle is to avoid chemicals. Mainstream herbicides, pesticides and insecticides, should only be used in extreme cases.
Oftentimes, you can work with a landscape professional who can offer you suggestions on other ways to deal with pests and unwanted invasive plants.
That being said, you may still have to do your part and carry out some sweat equity by removing invasive pests and plants, like weeds, by hand.
If you’re located in or near Wisconsin, invasive plants like buckthorn, ivy, and wild grape, need to be removed by hand. You have to get to the root system to truly kill them off. There’s just no other way to get rid of them once and for all.
Still, you want to always keep the needs of your local wildlife in mind whenever you do add anything to your plantings, soil or lawn.
And, above all, if you ever have questions, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a professional.
For more information on birds and backyard gardens, be sure to check out my Pinterest Board: Garden Ideas from Wisconsin Homemaker.