Have you seen many butterflies among your flowers? What about bees? Both groups of beneficial insect pollinators are on the decline. Whether you’re a gardening novice with a small balcony or gardening veteran with a few acres; you may be able to help wildlife in your area.
May is National Garden for Wildlife Month. From bird watchers to bunny lovers, people are working to transform their gardens into havens for wildlife. One nonprofit in the Saint Louis area is working to provide a living landscape for birds and other wild animals. The Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA is part of the growing trend to garden for wildlife. APA Executive Director Steve Kaufman is working with the Saint Louis Audubon Society to create landscaping to encourage wildlife and benefit the ecosystem surrounding the adoption center.
Kaufman says Audubon volunteers are helping in two ways: “They are providing the expertise on what plants are good for native wildlife and also providing some of the plants needed for our landscaping.”
It is not unusual to see rabbits, birds and even the occasional wild turkey on the grounds of the APA Adoption Center located in a busy retail and business district. Using native plants and smart landscaping choices can have meaningful impact on populations of birds and wildlife in the area.
“The APA cares for all animals, not just the ones brought into our facility for direct care. This is just a small way to do our part to help the native Missouri animals that live in our area (or fly through!)” explains Kaufman.
This type of gardening has benefits for humans too. The traditional suburban lawn, on average, has ten times more chemical pesticides per acre than farmland. By choosing native plants for your landscaping, you are creating a healthier place for your family and community.
The Missouri Botanical Gardens offers many free resources online to help with native gardens. You can find them by clicking on A Guide to Native Landscaping in Missouri or following this link: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/visit/family-of-attractions/shaw-nature-reserve/gardens-gardening-at-shaw-nature-reserve/native-landscaping-for-the-home-gardener/native-landscaping-manual.aspx
A national native online plant guide can be accessed by clicking on American Beauty Native Plants or following this link: http://www.abnativeplants.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.search/index.htm?announcementid8429382
The National Federation for Wildlife offers many free resources for gardening to benefit wildlife. There is also a program to certify your yard or outdoor space as Certified Wildlife Habitat®. You can learn more at http://www.nwf.org.