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The Registry of Nature Habitats

Attracting Wildlife to Your Back Yard

A Guide to Increasing Wildlife Diversity and Aesthetic Value Around Your Home

Landscape Planning
1. Setting Your Personal Goals and Priorities

Making the decision to enhance your backyard for wildlife is one of the largest contributions most people can personally do to help wildlife. It is possible to transform your existing yard into a beneficial site for attracting local wildlife and an excellent location for you and your family to enjoy some outdoor activities.

The key to a successful back yard landscaping project is producing a plan which can be referenced at any time. The following steps are a good guide for beginning wildlife landscapers and have been successful for individuals in the past.


Based upon several factors, decide what you want to attract. In most cases, the choices are: nesting songbirds, butterflies and moths, hummingbirds, deer or other large mammals, winter songbirds, waterfowl, upland game species, amphibians and reptiles, cottontail rabbits and other small mammals, or a combination of species.

The limiting factors in making your decision include what types of cover you plant, what nesting structures you provide, what species are found locally or migrate through the area, how much property you have available to enhance, what you are willing to tolerate and whether or not you can provide special habitat like water.

Some other questions you may consider include:

  • Are you starting from scratch or does your property already have features that benefit wildlife?
  • Does attracting wildlife negatively affect your neighbor or could the project be one in which all neighbors participate?
  • Where do you best locate plantings and feeders to view wildlife while not overly disturbing them?
  • How much money can you put into this development?

Generally, some wildlife will respond favorably to the addition of any quality habitat. Some species, however, require specific conditions and special habitats. It may be impossible, for example, to create the arid, sandy, habitat conditions in a Bismarck back yard to raise horned lizards.

Finding out about these special conditions can be done by researching wildlife publications or consulting a local biologist. Either way, once you have decided your target species based upon research and what you have to work with, you are ready for step 2.

Previous Section -- The Needs of Wildlife: COVER AND SPACE
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Next Section -- Landscape Planning: 2. Producing a Drawing of the Property


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