Creating a Wildlife Friendly Backyard

by | Aug 18, 2022

Photo courtesy of National Audobon Society

Owning a house or renting a property with a bit of green space is good for the soul. It offers a relaxing place to unwind, a place to gather with friends, or for kids and pets to play. For years, part of the “American Dream” has been owning a bit of property and maintaining it to perfection. You see it every Saturday and Sunday – landscapers or homeowners out in their yards with their lawnmowers, hoses, and tools. 

However, what if the perfect lawns we are creating could have a greater purpose? One that would not only prevent the loss of wildlife species and their habitats, but also beautify the neighborhood? Instead of worrying about weeds, and spraying lawns with harsh chemicals, the focus could be on making a yard that is welcoming and friendly to organisms and animals native to the area. That focus would in turn help sustain the balance within our ecosystem. Animals have the same needs as humans – food, water, shelter. Without them, they die, and without the animals that are native to our area, who have a role within the ecosystem, humans could go the same way as species die off due to manmade chemicals that are unnatural. Indeed, saving the habitats of animals will help save all of us. 

Photo courtesy of laidback gardener

So, how does one create a wildlife friendly backyard? Disclaimer: These steps may lead to an influx of other animals, such as raccoons, groundhogs, and skunks, which are the animals that generate the most calls to authorities to remove. There are other ways, however. HAP’s Love Your Wild Neighbor campaign offers tips and tricks to prevent these “unwanted visitors” from sticking around WITHOUT resorting to having the animals trapped and killed. 

The following are just a few suggestions that will enhance your greenspace and make it pleasant for all creatures:

  • Buy/make bird feeders and bat/butterfly houses
  • Create a  Bee hotel
  • Plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers; replace some hard-to-maintain grass with  native plants and trees 
  • Reduce pesticide use 
  • Black oil sunflower seed supplies high quality food to the majority of backyard bird  species 
  • Create toad abodes from old or broken pots 
  • Create rock gardens from rocks found on your property 
  • Use water from downspouts, rainwater, rain barrels, and air-conditioning drips to refill  birdbaths 
  • Landscape with tree limbs and leave dead trees to provide food and  shelter 
  • Check out your local library for field guides and wildlife books 
  • Keep wildlife safe from companion cats by keeping them inside, putting bells on their collars to make them easier to hear, or creating barriers to the environments you create 
  • Grow plants that provide food for birds  10 Plants for a Bird-Friendly Yard
  • Make a leaf pile  
  • Grow herbs 
  • Create a bog garden  
  • Plant spring bulbs 
  • Create a compost heap 
  • Add a bug hotel
  • Garden sustainably
  • Get the neighbors involved  


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5 Ways to Make Your Backyard Wildlife Friendly

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Aimee Douglass is the Director of Compassionate Living. Aimee works in the healthcare industry and has a bachelors degree in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and a masters degree in Communications with a health care focus from Southern New Hampshire University.

Abhi Nadendla is a blogger at HAP and has been volunteering at the organization since late 2022. She is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and loves spending her free time helping out at animal shelters.

Hannah Lewis is a grant writer and blogger from Pittsburgh’s North Side who has been with HAP since 2020. In addition to writing and advocating for animals, she enjoys hiking, cooking plant-based meals, bouldering at her local climbing gym, and curling up with a good book and her long-haired cat, Freyja.

Kelly Frantz has recently joined the HAP family as a blog writer. She is passionate about animal protection and is excited to educate the community about animal welfare.