About Central Florida Gardener

Welcome and thank you for visiting Central Florida Gardener. Florida is a unique state in which to garden. It can be frustrating but also rewarding for gardeners who persevere. This blog was created as a resource for Florida gardeners, both new and experienced, in search of information specifically for Florida gardens.

You are invited to participate by leaving your comments, suggestions, tips and recommendations relevant to Florida gardening - don't be shy! Thank you for dropping by to learn more about gardening in the Sunshine state. I look forward to hearing from you! Susan

Monday, September 24, 2012

Creating a Wildlife Habitat - Step #3: Places for Cover

Wildlife needs a certain amount of cover - - trees, shrubs, grasses - - for protection from predators. By providing a network of cover for safe passage it's likely you'll see greater numbers and varieties of wildlife all around your garden.

There's many ways to create covered areas in your garden. Some will produce results quickly while others will take time for trees and plants to establish themselves and grow, but with each passing year more and more wildlife will call your garden home.

We built a new home 5 years ago and our trees and shrubs have grown nicely and our flowerbeds larger, and we are reaping the rewards of seeing birds darting from one tree to another and into areas of shrubbery. We even spotted a rabbit feeding in our front and backyard recently.

The THIRD element necessary to attract wildlife is to provide places for cover.

Here's a list of suggestions for creating cover in your garden:

Plant trees and garden beds of shrubbery around them using a mix of Florida-Friendly and native varieties. Establishing a landscape with trees and plants of varying heights provides a more natural landscape cover for wildlife. When planting trees take into consideration the location of the sun to maximize energy savings for your home. Also, consider planting a mix of evergreen and deciduous varieties, as well as seed and fruit varieties to increase food sources for wildlife.

Create a network of cover areas. This sounds complicated but it simply means establishing trees and garden beds of shrubbery in various places throughout your landscape. In this photo off in the distance are some larger trees...a medium sized tree is a little closer....a palm is near the house as is the shrubbery....and another tree in the forefront of the photo which is hard to see. All of these areas provide cover over a specified area in which birds, squirrels, rabbits have a place to take cover when they dart from tree to shrubbery to tree in search of food.

Replace lawn with groundcovers and large island beds. Groundcovers can be easily maintained and provide cover to a number of small creatures. This island bed in my front yard provides coverage to birds as they dart back and forth to trees that frame our property. As it turned out, this butterfly garden provides lots of yummy caterpillars for the birds to feed on. Keep in mind that wildlife is more likely to use an island bed if it's located near other garden beds.

Add a  woodpile in an area of your garden. In this photo on the left you can see that I left the tree stump of a fallen tree along with a small portion of the tree trunk lying in the center of this bromeliad bed. The remnants of the tree that once stood there now is home to some creature that has dug a hole at the base of the stump. As the wood is slowly decomposing it's enriching the soil for the spreading bromeliads that surround it.

Wildlife Friendly Tip

#1 - Locate birdfeeders near bushes or trees so that birds are not exposed to larger predators.

#2 - Get your neighbors involved. A larger habitat will draw more species into a neighborhood.

Increasing cover in your garden is an essential element that is most often overlooked. By adding a variety of flowerbeds and trees of varying heights throughout your garden you will provide good coverage for wildlife and bring them closer to your home for better viewing.