There are few things as lovely as a garden full of beautiful songbirds and colorful butterflies flitting around. While some birds and butterflies will show up regardless, there are ways to help ensure they choose your garden over others and stick around. Creating a garden that is friendly to birds and butterflies not only gives you a relaxing oasis to escape to, but it may help support your local ecosystem, too!
Different species are attracted to different types of plants, so it's a good idea to plan a diverse garden. Choose a mix of annuals and perennials in a variety of colors to create a beautiful flower bed that also attracts plenty of pollinators. Try to ensure some flowers are blooming at every point in the season to provide a consistent habitat — birds and butterflies tend to revisit areas where they know they can find food.
While most people think of flowers when they think of attracting birds and butterflies, other plants are equally important. Trees and shrubs provide shelter and perches for visiting animals. Some also provide a food source themselves: consider planting lavender, lilac, heavenly bamboo, or the aptly named butterfly bush.
If you want birds to stay around, you may want to add additional shelter for them by creating nesting boxes and birdhouses. Set them up in quiet parts of your yard, and attach them high up in trees or on a pole. These may encourage birds to build nests and take up a more long-term residency in your yard.
Butterflies and hummingbirds require nectar to survive, so planting flowers that provide a natural food source is one of the best ways to attract them. These include several common species, including chrysanthemums and columbine. Be sure to plant them in areas that get plenty of sun to help them produce the most nectar. You can also set out a hummingbird feeder as an added draw, but make sure to research making and replacing the nectar.
While most birds and butterflies will be attracted to a wide range of flowers, creating a garden with blossoms that naturally grow in your area can add an extra boost. It also is more likely to attract native bees and other local pollinators, which can help support your local ecosystem.
Even birds and butterflies need a drink of water every now and then, and in urban areas, it can be difficult for them to find a safe place to enjoy one. Adding a small water feature to your yard can draw them in and provide reliable hydration. Be sure to keep the water clean, fresh, and topped off regularly. Don't let it get stagnant or dirty or you may find yourself attracting mosquitoes instead.
Some butterflies and other pollinators prefer shelter that's lower to the ground and denser, so creating a brush pile can give them a safe place to hide. To do this, simply use a mix of logs and fallen tree branches to create a dome-like structure with plenty of branches filling the interior.
It can be tempting to spray your plants with pesticides to keep less desirable insects away, but this can backfire by also harming butterflies and other pollinators. Instead, focus on more natural methods of pest control. If you do have to use pesticides, apply them selectively and keep them away from the blossoms on flowering plants.
While flowers provide plenty of nourishment for some species, others need a little extra. Setting out bird feeders with a wide variety of seeds, including black oil sunflower and millet, can help attract a wide variety of songbirds. Consider talking to a local plant nursery or garden supply store for area-specific recommendations as well, since certain species prefer different types of seed. Remember that as tempting as tossing out bread crumbs might be, it's not actually nutritious for most birds.
While using native flowers and other local plants is ideal, there are some plants that tend to attract birds and butterflies no matter where you live. If you're not sure what to plant, you may want to consider these standards:
Zinnias, asters, and goldenrods are also generally popular among birds and butterflies.
In addition to welcoming lots of guests to your yard, gardening has plenty of physical and mental health perks. Facty.com has a great article on these benefits!