South African is rich in its diversity of flora and fauna, boasting with an immense amount of species, some of which are particular to the country. If you are lucky enough to have your own garden, you might get even luckier with some indigenous wildlife paying it a visit. Various birds, butterflies and small mammals have been known to frequent residential gardens and bring delight to all.
Attracting wildlife to your garden can have more benefits than just affording the opportunity to view nature's splendid creatures. Providing food and habitat for wildlife encourages healthy ecosystems and natural processes, which in turn is essential for the preservation of nature and sustainability in general.
If your property is often overlooked by little critters, join us to take a look at a few ways in which you can make your garden more attractive to them.
In many of our gardens we often have to cut down trees and branches that pose a safety risk or are encroaching on space. The most sustainable solution for this is usually to cut up this wood into logs to be used for fireplaces and braais. This is often stored in garages, sheds or other hidden areas to clean up the garden and avoid unsightly areas.
Such a removal will be a mistake, however, since a simple log pile in your garden can do wonders in attracting wildlife. Building a log pile in your back yard can look rustically beautiful, but more importantly, it will encourage biodiversity by providing a habitat for all kinds of insects, amphibians and even small mammals. A good place to build such a log pile would be were you can conveniently view it, for example in full view from the patio area.
You may not think so, but old walls and sheds are star attractions when it comes to drawing out all kinds of wildlife. The space between old roofing tiles, for example, provide the perfect little spot for the nesting of birds and other insects. Gutters of old shed roofs are also frequently nested by the popular swallow, a petite and social bird that will certainly beautify your view.
Holes in bricks or soft mortar in old walls are an excellent place for certain fruit-pollinating bees to nests, as well as for solitary bee and wasp species to lay their eggs. This will especially occur where the wall is in full sun. So don't demolish that old shed or bygone wall just yet in case you'd like to accommodate some wild guests.
There are a number of reasons of different reason for why you would want to install a pond in your back yard, such as the aesthetic value and tranquillity it provides. Well, its benefits do not stop there. A pond is a microcosm of life, and will always attract more. Some landscape designers argue that it is the single most useful element in bringing wildlife into your back yard.
What you need to make sure of when installing a pond, is that the edges are shallow in order to provide easy access to frogs and newts. You should also invest in some good pond plants that will provide sufficient shelter for these amphibians, otherwise they might look elsewhere. Keeping the pond clean is just as essential, since an overgrowth of algae is not conducive to wildlife. Avoid chemicals in doing so, as it would have just as big a deleterious effect.
For more on ponds and advice on how to install your own, take a look at: Boost Your Garden With A Pond.
When considering attracting wildlife to your garden in an ethical manner, you must certainly think of how it can be a symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit. We get the pleasure of viewing beautiful creatures who pollinate our plants and power ecosystems, but what do they get out of the deal?
One solution is to install bird feeders. This is a very effective way to attract many different kinds of birds in an easily viewed area, but it also provide the birds with a good meal. Everybody wins!
Make sure to check what kinds of bird feed are appropriate for the birds in your area. Your local pet shop should sell a feed mixture that most birds can get on board with.
Bees are becoming increasingly threatened by our modern breeding methods and technology. It is a rising concern in the environmental community that bees are dying out slowly and populations are collapsing the world over. It is the responsibility of all of us to do what we can to help save the species. We are much more reliant on bees than your average layman would realise, as the products of their labour support innumerable industries.
The best thing that you can do for these little ones is to plant pollen- and nectar rich plant varieties and flowers. This includes salvia, lavender and nepeta plants, the most popular of which in South African is certainly lavender. Not only will you accommodate the bees, but you will have a hardy and beautiful plant that can also be utilised for cosmetic and health purposes.
When you are looking to attract a variety of feathered friends to your garden, it is good to familiarise yourself with who you can be expecting. This can be very specific to your specific location in the country, and information about what kind of nesting a bird prefers are at the tip of your fingers on the internet.
A sparrow which is ubiquitous in South Africa, commonly known as the Indian Myna, is a bird for who you can cater to specifically. These birds are very social and nest communally. This means you can install a terrace-type bird box on which a number of mynas can create their shared home. Due to their prevalence and sturdy population, they will certainly accept your invitation.
Our last piece of advice will be no effort at all to implement. All you need to do is to leave a pile of fallen leaves undisturbed. That's right, just leave it in a damp corner of the garden with lots of shade in order to attract all manner of insects and amphibians. These small animals thrive on the decay taking place in such a natural compost heap. A pile of leaves will also discourage digging, which leaves it up to the worms and burrowing insects which will thrive in this environment.
Most importantly, do not worry about grooming your garden to be
perfect. The most beautiful gardens are those surrendered to nature in all her glory.