If you’re planning to beautify your outdoor space, then you have the opportunity to help local birds and butterflies as well! By planting beneficial shrubs and flowers in your landscape, you can provide a sanctuary for important pollinators in your area. Doing so will make your home lively and help improve your local environment as well.

If you’re interested in a bird and butterfly friendly landscape design, then check out these landscape design ideas for attracting birds and butterflies to your home in Santa Cruz.

Focus on planting what birds and butterflies want to eat.

In order to attract butterflies and birds to your yard, you’ll need to provide them with the foods they like. Nectar, berries, seeds, and edible insects are all on the menu for many species of birds, so look for plants that will provide them.

Pollinator plants are a must-have for your garden since many of them appeal to butterflies and hummingbirds alike. To attract hummingbirds, in particular, plant native flowers that are red, since they’re more visible. You’ll want to group plants together in large patches of color when possible to make them easier to spot from above.

Additionally, make sure you keep some older natural features, such as tree stumps or logs, while you’re planting new things. These provide a breeding ground for grubs and insects that many birds find appetizing.

Plant for all life cycles and seasons.

The more variety you can include in your garden, the more birds and butterflies you’ll attract! A good place to start is to include both annual and perennial plants around your home so that you’ll see changes throughout the year. This will ensure that wildlife will have something beneficial all year-round.

Another important thing to consider is the butterfly’s life cycle. Alongside the flowering plants that attract adult butterflies, include plants that provide food for caterpillars as well. Grouping plants together by type will also make it easier for caterpillars and butterflies to thrive in your garden.

Plan your irrigation system carefully.

Flowers and nectar are key when it comes to attracting birds and butterflies to your home, and plants require plenty of water in order to bloom. When dry weather strikes, plants are less likely to bloom since they’re busy conserving water in their stems and leaves instead.

Opting for a drip irrigation system is a great move, as is covering that irrigation system with a good mulch that will slow the evaporation rate. This will ensure that your plants absorb as much of the water as possible, rather than losing it to the dry air. Just take care to leave other areas of soil around your home exposed, so that native insects can complete their full life cycles.

Shop locally for your bird and butterfly garden.

If you aren’t sure which plants will do best in the Santa Cruz area, you might want to consult with local environmental groups or plant nurseries. They’ll be able to suggest which plants to arrange adjacent to one another based on soil, water, and light requirements–and they’ll probably be able to give you tips on which plants to choose if you want something easy.

To get you started, here are some commonly planted species that thrive locally and attract birds and butterflies:

  • Milkweed varieties
  • Low Blue Blossom
  • Hummingbird Sage
  • Dogwood
  • Black-eyed Susans
  • Wild Bergamot
  • Mexican Elderberry
  • Hollyleaf Cherry

Include water features and natural debris to attract more.

Alongside a wide variety of plants that provide both food and shelter for local birds and butterflies, you’ll want to include other attractive features as well. One of the best things you can add to your garden is a water feature, especially a fountain that makes an audible splash.

You might also want to consider letting a moderate amount of natural plant debris such as twigs and leaves accumulate. It might sound odd but consider making fallen tree branches or piles of twigs a part of your landscape design! Instead of raking them away, leave them in convenient places so that birds can use them for nesting materials.

It’s also a great idea to decorate around your water feature or garden pathway with pebbles and rocks for butterflies to sun themselves on. Creating a couple of pebble-lined depressions in the soil for shallow puddles to accumulate will allow butterflies to drink easily, too.

Include some pre-made shelter in your landscape design.

While loose debris is certainly handy for harboring insects and providing birds with nesting materials, you might want to go a step further. By putting up some bird boxes, you’ll increase the likelihood of local birds feeling secure and comfortable enough to stay.

To make it even more appealing for birds to set up shop around your home, hang up some bird feeders nearby as well. You can attract a wider variety of birds by installing several feeders with different types of bird feed around your garden.

Avoid pesticides whenever possible.

While many people shudder to think of pests devastating their garden, pesticides should be used with extreme caution (if at all). You don’t want unnecessary or incorrectly applied pesticides to harm the very pollinators you’ve worked so hard to attract!

If you need to use pesticides to protect your garden, then seek out pesticides that precisely target the pests at hand. Pay close attention to the instructions and apply as carefully as possible to avoid collateral damage.

Keep pest control in mind from the very beginning, and avoid buying plants grown with neonicotinoids. These pesticides make their way into the plant itself while it grows, poisoning insects indiscriminately. Unfortunately, that means that beneficial insects will also be harmed if they come into contact with neonicotinoid-laced plants.

To Recap:

When planting around your home to attract birds and butterflies, keep their ideal diets and other needs in mind. Make sure you include a good variety of flowers, fruit shrubs, and insect habitats in your butterfly and bird sanctuary.

Aim to plant primarily native species in your garden and take some advice from local environmental groups and plant nurseries regarding how to arrange them. You’ll be able to keep the wildlife coming year-round with a nice intermingling of annual and perennial plants in your landscape.

To top everything off, add a nice, trickling water feature to let birds know that you’ve provided them with an oasis. Make sure you’re irrigating efficiently and using pesticides as sparingly and cautiously as possible. Mulch around your soaker hoses to prevent unwanted evaporation but be sure to leave some bare patches of soil so that insects can thrive!