Birds are magical creatures that bring beauty and fun to the world around us. Their gorgeous plumage and dainty songs conjure images of happy and warm times, and with a little bit of work, you can enjoy them from the comfort of your own home. With the tips below, you can design a beautifully landscaped yard and a crisp, clean lawn that wildlife will love. Read on to learn more about birdscaping or jump to our infographic — soon, your yard will be the talk of the flock.
First-time homeowners and their lawns
In 2020, first-time home buyers accounted for 33 percent of all homebuyers in the U.S. While it is an exciting time, owning a home for the first time can be a daunting and challenging endeavor. You’ll likely face issues you never thought possible (is that a bird in my fireplace?), and there is a big learning curve when it comes to the monthly maintenance and upkeep of your home.
Manicured lawns and landscaping are a huge part of being a homeowner, and suburbia takes them very seriously. But after coming from a rental where property management takes care of that for you, where do you even start? Don’t let the vast expanse of green intimidate you — with some preparation and elbow grease, your lawn will be the envy of your block. Your grass will soon be lush, and your yard will be a well-groomed haven for birds.
Additional tips to tap into your inner ‘yard dad’
Lawn care can be a challenge. It can seem like moms and dads on every street compete with one another for the best lawn in the neighborhood, and they may even have fancy equipment you didn’t even know about until now. With some research and preparation, you, too, can compete for the title of Best Lawn on the block.
Before you throw on your khaki shorts and chunky, white sneakers to assess the lawn situation, take a moment to review the basics of lawn maintenance. First, you’ll need to determine whether or not you need to seed or lay down sod, or if the lawn at your new home is already well-established. Then, you can get into the nitty-gritty of lawn maintenance and go head-to-head with the other lawn warriors on your block.
To help you get started, consider the following:
- Mow your lawn when the grass grows taller than 3.5 inches
- When mowing, cut no more than one-third of the length of the blades of grass to promote healthy growth
- Water your grass thoroughly once a week, ensuring that the water reaches deep into the ground
- Fertilize your lawn at least twice a year, in the spring and fall
- Do a soil test before purchasing fertilizer to determine what nutrients your lawn needs most — nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are the main nutrients your lawn needs
- Fertilizers can be slow-release or quick-release — slow-release fertilizers are better for established lawns and last up to two months, while quick-release fertilizers give an immediate nutrient boost to your lawn and last two to four weeks
- When purchasing a lawnmower, consider the size of your yard and the topography to help you decide whether you need a push mower or a riding mower
The benefits of birdscaping
Birdscaping is the art of designing your yard to be a utopia that birds will flock to. But this takes more than just a birdbath. Birdscaping involves planting enticing plants (such as berry bushes), creating areas for rest and shelter, and ensuring that your yard is an overall safe place for birds to visit.
Apart from the fun of watching wildlife thrive near your home, birdscaping is excellent for maintaining your garden and yard health. Many birds feast on insects such as mosquitoes, aphids and caterpillars that might otherwise harm your yard. Other species prefer to snack on the seeds of unwanted weeds, keeping these pesky plants in check. But enough of the background info, let’s get to landscaping and bring on the birds.
How to attract birds to your yard
With these tips, your landscaping will soon be appealing to you and your winged visitors. You’re sure to see birds coming to your yard to enjoy all the amenities you’ve provided them.
1. Put out plenty of food
Birds have varied diets depending on the species. In general, the birds you find in your yard will prefer to eat insects, berries, nuts and plant-based foods (such as seeds). Depending on where you live, you may also encounter larger birds of prey that hunt small animals. Since birds have such a wide variety of food preferences, it’s necessary to provide a little bit of everything in your yard to ensure all your feathered visitors are satisfied.
Birds prefer natural foods to processed and synthetic foods, so don’t be afraid to splurge a bit to attract birds to your yard. Foods that many bird species enjoy include:
- Sunflower seeds
2. Add multiple water sources
Water is extremely critical for wild birds — they not only use it to stay hydrated, but also to clean their feathers. Birds don’t always have easy access to water in the wild, so adding water features like birdbaths to your yard can draw more visitors to your home while also adding a beautiful, natural touch to your landscaping.
Moving water is a great way to attract birds to your yard and keep them coming back for more. Elements like waterfalls and fountains are easy for birds to see and hear, and the moving water stays cleaner a bit longer than stagnant water. If you have a solar panel system in your home, you can use it to power your moving water features (just make sure you get solar panel insurance to properly protect your system).
3. Have fun with color
Birds see color better than humans do and they rely on it to give them visual cues and indicators about their environment. Brightly colored fruits and flowers can signal a rich food source, while bright colors on other animals or plants can indicate danger. With the proper birdscaping, you can use plants and outdoor decor to your advantage and attract more birds to your yard.
Some birds are more attracted to certain colors than others, and neutral colors can offer many bird species a safe place to breed and nest since the neutrals blend in with the natural environment. However, it’s important to avoid filling your yard with too much white. White will deter birds from visiting since this is a color they often use when showing aggression towards other birds.
4. Give birds places to shelter
Wild birds enjoy shelter and places they can hide from predators and bad weather. You can use thick vegetation such as shrubs and thickets to provide your winged friends with a more natural place to hunker down. It’s best to choose plants that are native to the area you live. This allows natural food sources, such as berries or insects, to be found in the birds’ shelter, and this offers familiar scenery.
You can also use birdhouses to provide shelter. Different types of birds are drawn to different varieties of birdhouses, so do some quick research on what birds are found near you and what kind of shelter they prefer. For example, purple martins like houses with multiple levels, while chickadees prefer a more standard birdhouse. After learning about what species live in your area, you’ll be the best bird landlord in your neighborhood.
5. Add in plants birds love
When birdscaping, it’s essential to think about what plants to include in your yard to bring in winged visitors. Plants like daisies, sunflowers and coneflowers are perfect for adding flowers to your garden while also attracting a wide array of bird species. You may also want to look into adding berried plants to accommodate birds who enjoy fruit.
When choosing plants, think about what type of food and shelter that plant will offer. You’ll also want to research when each plant you’ve chosen will grow or bloom, as well as any water or sunlight requirements they may have. This will ensure your garden is at its maximum effectiveness for drawing birds to your home.
6. Encourage nearby nesting
Nests are one of the most iconic features of birds, and you’ll definitely want to encourage nesting in your yard. Many species will use nest boxes or nest platforms, and, depending on where you live, using these in your yard may help attract larger birds of prey such as owls or osprey. Other bird species that use nest boxes include wrens, chickadees, finches, sparrows, and swallows.
However, not all birds like to use nest boxes or platforms — some prefer natural nesting. You can still make your home an enticing place for your fowl friends by providing them with materials they can use to build their nests in the plants and vegetation around your yard. Add string, strips of cloth or even pet fur that hasn’t been treated with flea or tick medicine to bird feeders to encourage these species to build nests nearby.
7. Provide a warm home in the winter
If you live in a climate with cold winters, it’s crucial to change up the shelter you provide birds when the weather turns frosty.
Planting shrubs and trees that have foliage year-round, rather than shedding their leaves in the fall, is a fantastic way to offer natural shelter. Evergreen plants like pine trees and boxwood fit this bill, and using plants with varying heights provides birds with options for where they want to warm up their feathers.
Roost boxes are another wonderful option for helping birds stay warm. These are better equipped than birdhouses for holding in heat during cold winter days and nights, but a standard birdhouse will work for the winter in a pinch.
8. Protect birds from predators
Backyard birds are prey to several animals, so you’ll need to take that into account when birdscaping your yard. Believe it or not, our beloved family pets (like cats and dogs) pose some of the biggest threats to wild birds.
To prevent any possible attacks, try to limit the amount of time your cat spends outside, if any at all. If your cat does go out, have them wear a collar with a bell that can serve as a warning to any nearby birds. Keep an eye on your dogs when you let them out to ensure they aren’t harming any winged visitors. If a pet does attack a bird, do not reward this behavior.
Backyard birds are also prey to hawks and other birds of prey. To help protect the smaller birds in your yard, provide them with feeders that have some cover. Squirrels and raccoons are known to eat eggs from nests and you can deter them by removing perches from feeders (which can act as handholds).
9. Add in a perch stick
Many birds prefer to perch near a feeder before they swoop in and feast, and perches make your backyard visitors more visible to you. You may find that you have the perfect natural perch already in your yard, such as a bush or shrub, that you can place a feeder by, or you may have to get creative and make one yourself. Perches can be easily made with a branch or tree limb and perhaps a metal rod for added support.
Birds like chickadees, wrens, finches and thrushes all enjoy perching, so providing them with a place to land for a moment will be a big draw for them. Be mindful of where you place your perch so that you can easily watch any birds. Take a look at the view of your yard from inside your home to get a good idea of where the most visible places for perches are.
10. Refresh your feeders regularly
It’s crucial to regularly change the food you have in your feeders to prevent illness or death in your backyard birds. You’ll need to change the food at least once a week to avoid mold or bacteria growth. This will also empty out any bugs or insects that may have taken a liking to your feeders.
It’s also imperative to clean your feeders regularly — about once every two weeks. This prevents disease and also makes the food more appealing since it’s fresher and cleaner. Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after every time you change the food or clean your feeders.
11. Don’t be afraid to try something new
Birdscaping is not a one-size-fits-all process, so don’t be afraid of some trial and error or experimentation. While you want your yard to be appealing to birds, you also want it to appeal to you, so take some time to map out several ideas for what you’d like to see in your yard that will also encourage birds to visit.
You may also find that what works in a neighbor’s yard doesn’t work for yours, or vice versa. Don’t get discouraged — do some research on your own to see what will attract the birds you want to see. Birdscaping should be fun, so don’t feel pressure to create the perfect yard. With a little bit of time and landscaping, your yard will be a haven for birds.
With your lawn looking fabulous and your yard filled with birds, you can take a step back and breathe in that homeowner glory you’ve been dreaming of. At Hippo, we take the same pride in a properly protected home that you take in your beautifully manicured yard. Switch to Hippo to get access to exceptional services like Hippo Home Care and modern insurance policies to keep your new home safe.