Invite pollinators, wildlife into your landscape
By PAM BAYTOS
OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer
With a little effort, you can make an inviting place in your garden for pollinators and other wildlife by giving them a space to find food, shelter and water by adding a few simple elements. This can let you reap the benefits of a healthy garden.
A toad house will have your amphibian friends linger in your garden, and they will repay you by consuming slugs and harmful bugs. You can buy one or just turn a terra cotta pot with a “door” broken out upside down among your plants giving them a cool place to hide and escape the heat.
A butterfly puddler provides a spot for butterflies to load up on their minerals. I made a leaf cast, filled it with sand, some rocks to land on, a sprinkle of salt and moistened with water. You can use any shallow container to make yours. You can also set out a plate of overripe fruit near other blooms in the garden to draw in hungry butterflies.
Hang a bat house to entice these wonderful natural pest controllers. One little brown bat can consume 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in one night.
A bird bath is entertaining for you and a community hot spot for your feathered friends. My large rhubarb leaf cast has birds lined up waiting for their turn. Adding a heated one for winter months ensures birds have water all winter.
Birdhouses provide a great nesting home. It’s a daily quest to remove sparrows from the bluebird houses, but the rewards are worth the effort when new generations of these beauties take their first flight.
Speaking of beauties, we can’t forget to hang out hummingbird feeders. You need to hang your feeders in a shaded location, away from wind and cats. Placing them near trumpet-shaped flowers will attract more hummers.
Use a high-quality mix of seeds when feeding birds to avoid weeds to keep the feeding area clean. You may be able to lure squirrels away from your bird feeders by adding a few corn spinners to your yard.
Another must-have in your landscape is to include a bee house. Attract peaceful, native bees to pollinate your garden by installing bee houses with nesting tubes.
Mason and leafcutter bees are solitary and do not produce honey. Their pollinating capacity makes them attractive to gardeners.
Mason bees gather pollen from spring fruit trees and early blooming shrubs. One mason bee can pollinate as much as 100 honeybees. Leafcutter bees pollinate summer-blooming flowers, fruits and vegetables.
For ideas on attracting and feeding wildlife, go to http://go.osu.edu/backyardwildlife.