By Weina Dinata
Who says you have to own a large space to garden to create a habitat for wildlife? I’ve seen it happen over and over that when you provide it, they will find it. The main reason bird and insect populations have declined is loss of habitats required for them to survive. Every small patch of habitat, even that of an apartment, can become part of a joint effort to support and sustain the livelihood of birds and other animals.
THE LOSS OF WILDLIFE HABITATS.
Here are some of the cause of habitat loss:
Urban development and residentials Planting lawns with exotic, ornamental plants from other countries takes away the opportunities we have to help replace habitat that’s already been lost. Not to mention they don’t serve any ecological benefits to our habitat. So, we need to do as much as possible; small spaces matter!
The loss of open spaces Our birds need large open spaces to protect their nests. “There is no substitute for wild open prairie when it comes to supporting birds like this upland sandpiper. Like other prairie birds, upland sandpipers require large expanses of unfragmented prairies. This is partly because prairie birds use the needle-in-a- haystack strategy for nesting—placing a ground nest amongst the prairie grasses in an expanse so large it would be unlikely for predators to stumble upon it. As the prairie shrinks, the search area becomes smaller and nesting success decreases.” — Dr. Tyler Moore, a biology professor.
Invasive species Plants like ivy and vinca or periwinkle are native to Europe and brought to different parts of the world by humans. They’re called invasive because many thrive in disturbed soil and have dense root systems that smother the root systems of surrounding vegetation such as our native plants.
YOUR SMALL SPACE CAN HAVE A BIG IMPACT.
Whether you’re an apartment dweller, homeowner, landscape designer, or a local policy maker, we can all help birds and other wildlife by simply choosing native plants when deciding what to plant for landscaping decisions in your garden or containers on your patio or porch. Here is what native plants are and why they are important from the Audubon Society.
“Native plants are those that occur naturally in a region in which they evolved. They are the ecological basis upon which life depends, including birds and people. Without them and the insects that co-evolved with them, local birds cannot survive. For example, research by the entomologist Doug Tallamy has shown that native oak trees support over 500 species of caterpillars whereas ginkgos, a commonly planted landscape tree from Asia, host only 5 species of caterpillars. When it takes over 6,000 caterpillars to raise one brood of chickadees, that is a significant difference”.
HOW TO CREATE A WILDLIFE HABITAT IN YOUR APARTMENT
You can be creative with small spaces to create a mini-habitat while keeping your aesthetic. The beauty of gardening with native plants is that they are so beautiful & versatile. There are so many different ways to create mini-habitats in a small space:
using horizontal/floor space.
Frame your space by using different heights, shapes, sizes, textures, materials, etc. For example, you can use a plant stand to give an airy or lifted feeling or cinder blocks to create dimensions and layering effects.
You can have a table-top mini-habitat centerpiece to replace flower arrangements for your outdoor table. Click here to see your choices.
Wall or railing: Don’t forget about your wall or any vertical surface! You can create a vertical mini-habitat using pallets, hanging pockets like shoes storage, or some kind of frame with chicken wire to hold your native plants.
Hang it: You can always use hooks either from your ceiling or wall to hang baskets/containers and moss balls or free-standing ones.
WHAT TO PLANT IN YOUR HABITAT.
For information on the best native plants to choose to lure wildlife to your mini-habitat, check out the blog here