I'd like to tell you a little about our property as well as take you on a tour with photos of our property.
The front yard consists of sedum beds, rose beds, strawberry and lavender beds, birdhouses, and feeders. The butterflies spend a lot of time here in the afternoons as it is full sun and protected from the wind. We have a chainlink fence in the front yard with vines and gourds growing on it. Plus a mint garden that attracts and feeds the butterflies and bees.
The backyard consists of two ponds with a stream connecting...there are raspberry and current bushes...cherry tree, apple trees, grape vines...all for the different size birds...nest boxes...bat house, Wood Duck house...and many, many feeders. We have feeders enclosed in small wire fencing so the big birds can not bother the small ones...we have large open feeders for the bigger birds. We have squirrel feeders...we hang suet...and we have bird baths situated in various places in addition to the ponds and stream. The squirrels like to drink from the lower pond's waterfall...the young and small birds use the baths and the stream. The bigger birds drink from the upper pond and bathe on the edges.
I grow flowers and herbs to attract and feed the butterflies and birds...and leave the seed pods on for the winter months. We have spruce and cedar trees and cottonwood, elm, maple, and ash trees. Lilac bushes edge the property on one side. A lot of the feeders are located under the eve of my workshop, as are some houses; this seems to provide the smaller species a protected place to eat and nest.
The butterflies have areas to bask in the sun and plants to feed the caterpillars as well as the adults.
We also have a staghorn sumac tree and pussy willows. We are trying to grow three holly bushes if they will survive the winter.
We have a 6-foot high fence around the backyard property with lattice on three sides and vines growing up the fence. The vines provide food and nectar to the wildlife.
In the ponds are plants native to our area and floating plants. We put driftwood and rock in the pond to provide protection for the fish, turtle, and frogs. The lower pond has a waterfall, plants, and driftwood. Both ponds receive more shade than sun, so we are seldom bothered with algae.
We do not have problems with the various sized birds as there are feeding stations designed for all. The squirrels never bother the birdfeeders as they have their own feeders.
We do not use pesticides at all in the backyard and encourage beneficial insects. The 5 bantam hens and one California white hen provide excellent grasshopper and slug control. In the front yard, I have to spray the rose garden once in awhile.
We do a lot of mulching with wood we pruned and shredded. And we have our own compost pile so everything is pretty much natural.
Mother Nature does a fine job of taking care of the wildlife...we must not interfere with her...just help her some.
We call our habitat... "Hegre's Heavenly Half Acre." In the winter, things are not much different. We will try to heat both ponds this year along with the heated birdbaths.
I guess I find it hard to describe what we have here...it is such a wonderful, magical place...and now the dragonflies have come....so, it complete for the summer. I have a muscle disease and arthritis...so, working in and around this little piece of paradise helps to forget the pain.
We are truly blessed to be able to help the wildlife have a safe haven, where they can eat, bathe, and multiply without having to fight off the dogs, cats and humans!
About the Author Karen Lee Hegre is a Master Gardener living in Rapid City, South Dakota, where she maintains a backyard wildlife habitat certified by the National Wildlife Federation called 'Hegre's Heavenly Half Acre'. Take a tour of Karen's habitat. Each year the Hegres open the gardens to the public, free of charge. Karen grows herbs and makes culinary blends, potpourri, teas and other delectable that she sells in her shop called 'The Herb Cottage.' She is also the moderator of the egroups list Windowsill Gardening where members can discuss growing and using herbs.