Step 4 Designing for Wildlife

As Florida becomes increasingly populated and developed, wildlife are losing natural habitat. NatureScape encourages restoring healthy habitat by providing sources of food, water, cover and places to raise young in our yards. The National Wildlife Federation is an excellent resource for information about creating wildlife habitat in your backyard, school and community.


Here are some tips for landscaping for wildlife:

  • Limit the Amount of Lawn - Lawn provides very little food and cover to most species of animals. You can help by reducing the amount of mowed lawn on your property. Did you know that a lawnmower pollutes as much in one hour as a car does driving for 350 miles?
  • Increase Vertical Layering - Adding plants between the ground and the tree canopy is called vertical layering". When you plant bushes or plants underneath the trees in your yard, you provide wildlife with cover and feeding opportunities. 
  • Provide Snags and Brush Piles - It sounds odd, but consider leaving dead trees in your yard. These "snags" provide wildlife with opportunities for nesting and feeding. If you are concerned with safety, consider having a tree surgeon cut the tree to approximately 15 feet so that it is still valuable to wildlife. Snags can also be laid horizontally along a corner of your yard. There are some bird species that will only use nesting areas they have personally excavated.
  • Provide Water - Wildlife need a clean water source for drinking and bathing. Water sources include birdbaths, water gardens, ponds, lakes, canals, ocean and seasonal wet areas.
  • Plant Native Vegetation - Native Florida plants provide natural food sources and require less care and resources to maintain because they are already adapted to local water and soil conditions. 
  • Remove invasive, exotic plants to end the cycle of reseeding to other areas. 
  • Reduce Pesticide Use - Pesticides kill all insects including beneficial insects that pollinate plants and are meals for wildlife. Try the least toxic solution to your pest problem first.
  • Restrict Domestic and Exotic Pets - Dogs and cats may be your best friends, but they can drastically impact wildlife populations. Feral cats kill millions of birds annually.

Florida State ButterflyCreating a Butterfly Sanctuary

Attract butterflies by selecting larval host plants and nectar plants. There are over 100 different species of butterflies in Florida and a variety of your favorite plants may attract them.  Some of the most common species and their host plants are featured here:
Butterfly Identification Sheet from the North American Butterfly Association, Broward County Butterfly Chapter (PDF)

Attracting Resident and Migratory Birds to Your Yard                                                                   

Sustainable habitat is built upon a variety of native plants that provide year-round food, cover, shelter and places to raise young. Avoid creating a habitat that relies on artificial feeding. Some
of the most common birds and the native plants that attract them are listed here:
Native Plants to Attract Birds (DOC)


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