Attracting wildlife to your garden

Make your garden a refuge for wildlife.

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Is it hard to attract wildlife -- such as an owl, a wild-turkey couple, and a raptor -- to your garden, as Ellen Zunon writes about in Going Native in the Backyard? Not at all. But it doesn't just happen.

The first step in making your yard wildlife-friendly is stopping by the National Wildlife Federation's Backyard Wildlife Habitat site. It explains that a landscape that's welcoming for small animals isn't just good for the environment -- although that's a big advantage -- but it can be attractive in a suburban neighborhood, too.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has an excellent step-by-step paperback about all aspects of gardening for wildlife, "The Wildlife Gardener's Guide," which is good because many of us want to attract birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds, as well as a variety of small wildlife.

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The cornerstones of designing a landscape for wildlife are simple: providing food, water, shelter, and -- sometimes -- breeding places.

 Native plants can make the job easier, but it isn't necessary to tear out your current landscape and replant -- just add some plants native to your region each year if you can.

Probably the least-expensive -- and most environmentally friendly -- step you can take to make your yard more attractive to wild creatures is to go organic. (And watch out for organic pesticides, too -- some can be toxic to bees.)

Making a yard more friendly to wildlife also makes it more enjoyable for people. What a joy to look out your kitchen window and spy a hawk, as Ms. Zunon has, or to annually welcome a turkey couple waddling around the neighborhood. And it doesn't take a great deal of space or time.

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