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Canadian Gardener – Garden designs to attract birds By Christopher Clayton

Garden designs to attract birds


By Christopher Clayton, Toronto landscape architect / garden designer


Want birds in your garden? Here are some garden design strategies to attract them:


  • Provide cover. Birds need places to rest while checking out the lay of the land. Cedars, Pines and Spruces provide great places for them to perch safely while confirming that no predators are lurking in the underbrush waiting to pounce.
  • Give them water. Birds, like all living creatures, need to drink. A bird bath will attract them – as long as you make sure there are only very low plants around the bottom. Birds avoid tall grasses and high blooms that can conceal foxes and cats.
  • Create a dusty spot. Many species of birds use a dust shower to rid themselves of fleas and other undesirable pests. The ’dust bowl’ needs a lot of room around it to make the birds feel safe, so they can see predators coming.
  • Make them a home. Birds generally build their nests in trees. But you can encourage them to create their home inside a special bird house or nesting platform that meets the needs of the birds that you want to attract.
  • Leave them natural places to set up shop. A dead tree, for instance, can provide excellent nesting sites – natural crooks in the trunk, woodpecker-created gaps and holes left behind where a branch fell off. You can create an open, airy dry gravel area for birds that lay eggs on the ground. Or, if you are lucky enough to own a large open grass area, consider leaving it uncut until the fall – once you’ve talked to your neighbours and City authorities to make sure they understand your intentions. Annual mowing in the fall will remove the dry stems which are a fire hazard and control invasive Poplars, Spruce and Birch. The Mile Circle in Ottawa is such an area. It’s part of the Eastern Parkway, where local naturalists successfully persuaded the National Capital Commission to let a mown mile-in-diameter circle of grass naturalize into a meadow. Today it’s home to hundred of song birds .
  • Provide them with plants they can eat. There are so manyplants attractive to birds as a food source, I will compile one for my next blog.


www.garden-design.ca / cjclayton@sympatico.ca

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  1. Pingback: Make Your Garden Bird Friendly | Coffee Grounds to Ground - October 7, 2011

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