You can use bird feeders and bird baths to attract wild birds to your garden but if you also plant a bird garden you can increase the attractiveness of your garden enormously.
Trees, shrubs and flowers can provide shelter from predators and the winter cold and provide natural food for the birds for the whole year. Providing a safe environment with a natural source of food will make your wild bird visitors feel safe and they will visit often. Your garden may already provide some natural food but small changes can easily increase the availability of the food and make your garden even more attractive.
Plan your Bird Garden
Find out which birds are common in your area and base your plan around them. You can find out from the local library or bird society or by watching birds that are attracted to bird feeders in your area. Include native plants in your plan as they are most likely to thrive and will provide suitable natural food for the birds.
Make your basic plan and include trees, power lines, buildings, paths, shrubs etc and ensure you plan sunny as well as shady areas. Find out of there are any native plants that can be left to grow in your new garden. Have the soil tested before you start to find out the type of soil you have and any deficiencies that may be present. You can then add nutrients or minerals to restore the soil quality first and also ensure you buy plants suitable for the type of soil.
You will need a source of fresh, running water in your bird garden. This could be a pond with a fountain, a bird bath with a dripper or a spray in the trees. Plan to place a bird bath away from any bird feeders as birds need quiet for bathing away from the noise of birds feeding. A good place is away from any hiding places for cats or other predators under overhanging branches to allow the birds to escape into the branches if a predator approaches.
Plant Your Bird Garden
You should plant shrubs, trees and flowers that provide seeds, nuts, berries or nectar the whole year round in your bird garden. Trees need to have enough branches to support nests but not be so thick they prevent the birds from freely moving through them. Sketch in the plants on your plan and ensure you have some sunny areas and some shady areas. Take into consideration the size the shrubs and trees will eventually grow to and decide how many you can fit into the area.
When you begin to plant your garden involve the whole family. They will enjoy the fun! It's a good idea to take plenty of photographs to document your progress. Taking pictures of the same spot throughout the seasons can give a lovely record of all you have achieved.
Maintaining Your Garden
You will need to plan on time to maintain your garden. Keep the area round your new plants moist and use a mulch to help retain the moisture and discourage weeds. This will also help to maintain the garden without the use of harsh insecticides or herbicides which should be avoided. Many are poisonous to the birds and they will also cut down on the number of insects that are a major part of the food source of many birds.
Place bird feeders around your garden, hanging from trees or posts and place a bird bath away from the feeders but visible from your window so you can enjoy your bird visitors while they bathe.
It may be many months before you see the results of your hard work but once your garden is thriving you will be rewarded by the many wild birds visiting your bird garden.
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