When we moved into our house the yard was filled with non-native plants, grass and some amazing trees. None of the plants bloomed and few offered any resources for wildlife. Over the past year and ½ I have systematically removed all the invasive and non-native plants (accept the grass.) This summer I decided to start replacing the plants with native plants that bloom and offer a food source to birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. It hasn’t been easy! Removing invasive plants is a lot of work. More often than not they come back unless they are sprayed and I don’t like to use herbicide. So I have to hack at them several times or totally remove their roots. But it’s totally worth it- I love Texas and I only want Texas plants in my yard!
This summer I ordered 1 ton of limestone and 2 yards of pea gravel to complete my flowerbeds. This afternoon I completed the second flowerbed. It has lots of native plants that will grow into the space, a place for me to coil up my water hose (finally!) and I installed a birdbath with a drip.
The birdbath with a drip is key to attracting birds in the front yard. It sits on a rock pile that I built to cover an old tree stump. The layered rocks provide places for toad and lizards to live- which in turn cuts down on insects.
I also have started mowing the large lawn in sections to the fireflies have habitat. They love longer, moist grasses and plants. The results of that experiment have been amazing. We have tons of fireflies every night. Oh- and another thing I did for the fireflies was eliminate all outdoor lighting. The outdoor lights now only come on when someone passes by instead of always flooding the property.
In May I certified our yard as a Wildlife Habitat and Bird Habitat with National Wildlife Federation. The certification means that our yard has the following elements:
Water– we have 2 birdbaths and now a drip, plus a wet weather creek.
Food– we have large trees that produce acorns, pecans, and seeds, plus we now have a variety of native plants that provide nectar and seeds. We have bird feeders with seed and hummingbird feeders.
Shelter– we have large trees, log pile and rock piles.
Chemicals– we don’t use any chemicals on the lawn.
I purchase all my plants at Barton Creek Nursery – locally owned and locally grown.
The birdbath and other bird feeders come from Wild Birds Unlimited– also locally owned.
We also added gutters and rain barrels this spring to capture the water to use on the yard and plants. They’ve been a big help this year.