My kids have fallen in love with the idea of attracting birds and other beneficial wildlife to the landscape at the same time I fell in love with the idea of remaking the entire front yard planter. When we finally built the permanent chicken run it left a bare area in the front yard I needed to fill. So we had the challenge of creating a bird-friendly wildlife garden while at the same time keeping it curb-appeal-worthy.
We picked up the book Garden Secrets to Attracting Birds from Lowe’s to get some great ideas. Here’s what I came up with for our yards and eight plants that will attract birds to your landscape.
Weeping Japanese Maple Tree for Birds to Hide and Nest
A Japanese Maple is a fabulous landscaping tree. I chose a dwarf form called Inaba from Sooner Plant Farm because I specifically wanted a weeping form under 10′ tall, but any of the dwarf varieties will work well nearer to the house than you would want to plant a larger tree. These small trees provide shelter and habitat for the small song birds you are hoping to attract to your landscape. Lowe’s carries several varieties – just check the label for sun/shade requirements and expected maximum size and plan accordingly.
Foxglove for Hummingbird Color
Foxgloves are stately plants and grow anywhere from 2-6′ tall. Their tubular, downward facing flowers are irresistible to hummingbirds and are available in a variety of colors. Most foxgloves will tolerate full sun to part shade and in warmer areas they benefit from afternoon shade.
Echinacea for Larger Blooms
Echinacea is similar to coreopsis in that the flowers tend to attract butterflies, while the seeds attract birds by the droves. Leave the flowers standing after the blooms are spent for the best chance at attracting birds desperate for extra food each fall. Echinacea is such an easy to grow perennial plant that it’s a must-add to the garden in my opinion.
Coreopsis to Feed the Birds
Coreopsis is a mounding perennial plant that produces daisy-like flowers, usually yellow. When the plant is in bloom from late spring through summer they will attract butterflies. Once the flower begins to produce seed, instead of deadheading (plucking the dead flowers off the plant) let the seed heads stand and it will attract many song birds and finches!
Holly for Winter Cover and Berries
While holly berries aren’t edible for humans, birds love them and some species rely on them for food when overwintering. We picked up a couple of these Blue Princess hollies that have darker foliage and bright red berries for in the back of the planter (they will mature at 10′ tall!). Then we picked up a shorter holly with lighter green foliage that needs more sun for closer to the front of the planter where there is less shade. When purchasing hollies for berries be sure you find out which species need pollinator plants and which are self-pollinating.
Hostas for Beautiful, Bird-Friendly Shade Plants
Hostas are usually grown for their attractive foliage and ability to tolerate full shade. These easy-to-grow perennials will also produce summer or fall flowering spikes that attract both hummingbirds and butterflies and are worth adding to a shady corner of the garden!
Dogwood Trees for Shelter and Berries
Like the Japanese Maple, these two redtwig dogwoods will provide shelter during most of the season. They also produce a blue or white berry in the late summer/early fall which makes them a food source for the birds as well! I positioned these red twig dogwoods in front of the darker hollies so their colorful winter stems would stand out and be more noticeable for four-season interest.
Hollyhocks for Birds and Butterflies
Our book showed that Orchard Orioles enjoy the nectar that hollyhocks produce. I already knew that these gorgeous, tall flowers attract hummingbirds so this sold me. We planted bareroots along the fence line between our house and the neighbor’s yard as a living screen during the summer. Hollyhocks are an old-fashioned biennial plant and prefer full-sun and good air-flow to prevent powder mildew.
Putting it Together!
When you are putting together your wildlife garden, or any garden with large perennials and shrubs as foundation pieces, you want to be sure to leave plenty of space in between. You’ll see that these dogwoods and hollies are spaced several feet apart. It may seem like too much bare ground now, but in another year or two when these plants fill in, they will be grateful for the extra space!
If you are like me and want to have plenty of color, just fill in the gaps in between with colorful annual plants that will keep things interesting until your newly transplanted shrubs grow bigger.
This post was written as part of the Lowe’s Creative Ideas blogging challenge each month. All photography and opinions are original and my own. Be sure to subscribe to the Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine or follow Lowe’s on Pinterest for more ways to make an animal, pet, or wildlife-friendly garden.