Going Wild: Creating Wildlife Gardens

Categories|Earth-Friendly Garden Design, Pollinators and Wildlife
Going Wild: Creating Wildlife Gardens

Turns out, we’ve been creating wildlife gardens without really planning to.

At Spotts Garden Service, we’ve always focused on creating earth-friendly gardens that delight the people who live in them. That means using native plants where possible, making the garden beautiful throughout the year, and carefully managing water and other resources with sustainable strategies.


To encourage butterflies in your garden, provide both nectar-producing flowers and host plants for caterpillars.

Once one of our gardens gets settled in, it starts to attract wildlife. Homeowners report seeing bees buzzing through the perennials and butterflies and birds visiting. And that’s by design; a healthy garden is one that includes not just plants, but incorporates all parts of the web of life—from bacteria to fungus to animals.

Certified Wildlife Habitats

We recently created a garden that was expressly designed as a wildlife habitat. In a space just about 6′ wide by 20′ long, we planted a garden that would be ready to certify with the National Wildlife Federation. In order to qualify, it needed at least:

  • 3 sources of food (pollen, nectar, seeds, fruit, etc.)
  • 1 source of water (birdbath, stream, pond, etc.)
  • 2 sources of cover (thickets, stands of grass, dense shrubs, etc.)
  • 2 places for animals to court, mate, and raise young (nesting sites, host plants for caterpillars, mature trees, etc.)

Mature trees are a draw for nest building birds, but you can create hospitable sites using thick shrubs, too.

Wildlife Friendly by Design

When we looked at the certification list, we realized that our gardening strategies mean that most of our gardens contain all the components of wildlife habitats.

  • Keeping plants blooming all season ensures color for the gardener and nectar and pollen for insects.
  • Planting native shrubs and ornamental grasses provides movement and structure to the garden, while offering the benefit of fruits and hiding places for birds and other animals.
  • Smart soil management maximizes the populations of microorganisms upon which plants rely, as well as creating spots for ground-nesting birds and insects.

And then the garden becomes not just a lovely garden, but an ecosystem. Resilient, beautiful, and humming with life.

If you’d like help creating a certified wildlife habitat, contact us at 317-356-8808 or email us at info@spottsgardens.com.