I’ve been spending a good portion of my time this spring working on my wildlife garden in my backyard. We started out 3 years ago with just a backyard full of St. Augustine grass, now I have over 25 types of native plants in the backyard and about half the grass. Do I have more wildlife? Yes and no… When I wasn’t out fiddling in the yard all the time I did notice that we had more lizards. When I wasn’t taking such good care of the compost bin, we had raccoon visitors nightly. Now, not as many lizards, although that might change now that there are more shrubs growing in the yard and rock piles that I won’t be mucking about with anymore. The compost bin has been switched out from an open frame style to a closed drum, so no more raccoon salad bar, but perhaps that’s ok. I didn’t mind the raccoons, but I never got any compost because they ate all the green bits!
I have noticed more birds, as I have more native bugs in the yard with the native plants. I’ve noticed more wrens gleaning bugs off of our dwarf Yaupon bushes, which is quite entertaining to watch. Plants with berries, such as the Beauty Berry bush and Pigeon Berry bring in Mocking Birds and Doves, not that I needed more Doves, but still 🙂 We also had a Painted Bunting in the yard this year, and a Red-Breasted Grossbeak last year which is a little unusual in a suburban neighborhood.
We have more hummingbird visitors now that I have more Salvias & Batface Cuphea planted. My milkweed is doing really well this year so I’m hoping to get some more Monarch visitors at some point as well. We definitely have more spiders… jumping spiders and wolf spiders. They are quite fun to watch. We have more ants too, which I’m not that excited about though.
I’ve had a lot of fun picking out the plants and planning the garden, although its taking more iteration than I ever imagined. I really enjoy just sitting and watching the animals in the yard. I’ll be adding a butterfly garden addition soon. We just pulled out more grass in a sunny spot, so this fall I’ll plant some pollinator annuals. I also have some plans for a new water feature for next year to replace the utilitarian bird bath.
We don’t have a big yard. I envy the folks with an acre or more to work with, but I’ll do the best with what I have. Now that it’s summer and over 100 degrees everyday, I’ll just wait until the fall to do some more work in the yard. Its worth it to me to have a place to escape to, to forget all of the craziness in the world.
Plant Resources for Texas Wildlife Gardeners:
- Lady Bird Johnson Plant Finder
- Native Plant Society of Texas
- Native American Seed Company
- Texas Butterfly Ranch
- Grow Green Plant Guide – Austin
- Nine Natives to Plant – Houston
What kind of plants and critters do you have in your backyard?