Like us, birds need food, water, and shelter. By choosing locally native plants, you can transform any outdoor space into a bird sanctuary that also saves resources such as water and combats climate change. Use the steps below to create and maintain a bird-friendly habitat that brings colorful birds, sweet melodies, vibrant colors and more of nature's gifts close.
Select a site that's practical to convert into a garden and allow room to expand. Consider:
- Do you have full sun? Partial sun? Shade? is the soil rocky, loamy, sandy, clay, or gravel? Does is drain well? Is your site flat or hilly? Near water? What's the elevation?
- Learn what's optimal from the Maryland Native Plant Society or your local native plant society.
Plant in the spring or fall months and on cooler days.
Follow planting instructions carefully and get tips on mulching around plants. Water only as needed when young plants are adapting to their new habitat.
Prepare your garden well to save headaches later.
You may need to dig up lawn, remove invasive plants, and add organic compost to the soil. An easy method is to lay down newspaper at least six sheets deep, with plenty of overlap; wet it down; cover it with 4 to 6 inches of mulch, and let it sit until you are ready to plant. Use deep edging to keep out lawn grass.
Plan for a variety of shapes, sizes, and kinds of plants to give vertical structure to your garden.
- Cluster the same plant species together.
- Design for color palettes and seasonal blooms.
- Add habitat features like hollowed boulders that catch rainwater for birds to drink and bathe in.
- If you live in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, be sure to check out the USFWS Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping Chesapeake Bay
Steward your native plant garden with tender loving care.
- Pull up noxious and invasive weeds.
- Enhance with brush piles that hide birds and shelter other wildlife too.
- Leave dead trees and branches.
Focus on plants that support high variety and quantity of bird food.
- Red tubular flowers--columbine, jewelweed, and bee balm serve up nectar for hummingbirds.
- Native sunflowers, asters, and coneflowers produce seeds for songbirds.
- Bushes with berries ripen at different times, so include a seasonal variety
- to sustain birds: dogwood and spicebush; cedar and holly trees.