Friday, July 17, 2015

Maintaining Backyard Wildlife Habitat

In 2004 my husband and I decided to grow a wildlife habitat that would naturally provide the songbirds, squirrel, deer and other wildlife with forage. We knew that initially the garden would not do as intended but within a few growing season we would no longer have to worry; the plants would adapt to the garden and the wildlife would have plenty of food.

Here are photographs of wildlife in the backyard habitat 

Raccoon by serviceberry trees 

Black butterfly and mimosa flower

Butterfly garden

Cat relaxing after visiting the catnip garden
Raccoon hiding in the grass garden

Well that was the plan and it worked well the first few years then came the droughts and the extreme heat during the summer months and we lost many fruit shrubs due to not enough water and or pests. We simply could not hydrate the plants with the water restrictions in our area.

So the following year we collected water from the spring rains in the barrels that I bought at This was a good idea, however come end of July we had exhausted all of the water intended to sustain the habitat plants during the drought season.

Know that when we noticed the rain barrel water levels were getting low we then started collecting household water from bath, shower and water used to rinse the vegetables.  Yes taking buckets of water from house to outdoor rain barrel wasn't fun, the buckets were heavy and sometimes the water spilled out of the bucket when lifting to pour into the barrel. But by recycling the water we were able to have more water for the forage plants,  but it was not enough water to maintain the wildlife habitat throughout the summer.

Since we had lost many plants due to our extremely hot summers we decided to grow only native plants and other fruit bearing plants. Also instead of growing the forage plants away from the house we grew them closer. By doing this we were able to hydrate them with soaking hoses in the early morning on our assigned  watering days. We also invested in water retention mulch by Scotts. The cost of this mulch is higher than others but it is well worth it because it does help you to save water.

Initially our plan was to grow forage for the wildlife in our area, but with the changes to climates that idea became costly and one we could not afford to maintain.  Know that the wildlife habitat has changed to native plants that are maintained with the special water retaining mulch, soaker hose system that provide the plants at the soil level a slow and steady drip of water. We set these soaker hoses on a timer and water every other day for two hours in the early morning.

We continue to save the spring rain water but instead of waiting for the water level in these barrels to empty out before recycling, we started a water recycling system that we do constantly throughout the growing season.

By implementing the ongoing water recycling we found that the water barrel watering system does not deplete and has allowed us to continue to water our wildlife habitat during the hottest month of the summer.

Do you recycle water for your outdoor gardens?

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