Spring plant­ing can be for the birds, the but­ter­flies

Ef­fort co­or­di­nated by sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions

The Covington News - - Agriculture & Outdoors -

FORSYTH — As spring ar­rives, back­yard gar­den­ers and land­scap­ers be­gin the yearly task of beau­ti­fy­ing their out­door en­vi­ron­ments.

The Geor­giaW­ildlife Re­sources Di­vi­sion rec­om­mends that ama­teur and pro­fes­sional gar­den­ers, re­gard­less of their yard’s size, con­sider build­ing a place for wildlife while plan­ning for spring gar­dens.

“When plant­ing or land­scap- ing for spring, uti­lize plants ben­e­fi­cial to wildlife and keep in mind the fol­low­ing tips,” said Jim Ozier, a pro­gram man­ager with the di­vi­sion’s Nongame Con­ser­va­tion Sec­tion. “Th­ese help­ful hints are sure to en­hance the beauty of yards and gar­dens and at­tract a variety of wildlife for view­ing en­joy­ment.”

• Plant fruit-pro­duc­ing shrubs like na­tive crabap­ple, ser­vice­berry, blue­ber­ries, straw­ber­ries, black­ber­ries, dog­woods and wax myr­tle. To at­tract song­birds in­clud­ing car­di­nals, robins, blue­birds, ori­oles, brown­thrash­ers and mock­ing­birds, plant in clumps, clus­ters or is­lands. Cover pro­vides nest­ing ar­eas for birds and small mam­mals, as well as shel­ter from preda­tors and in­clement weather.

• Al­ways use cau­tion when us­ing pes­ti­cides. Overuse or mis­use of lawn chem­i­cals can harm wildlife. Con­tact a lo­cal Co­op­er­a­tive Ex­ten­sion Ser­vice with ques­tions about amounts and types of pes­ti­cides to use.

• Cre­ate a pool as a bird­bath and gath­er­ing place for wildlife. A pool can be as sim­ple as a small pond or as elab­o­rate as an in-ground reser­voir with wa­ter­falls. Also, shal­low bird­baths make ex­cel­lent land­scap­ing fo­cal points.

• Don’t for­get the but­ter­flies. Cul­ti­vate nec­tar-pro­duc­ing plants such as salvia, lan­tana, but­ter­fly bush, milk­weeds, blaz­ing star, im­pa­tiens and ver­bena to pro­vide but­ter­fly-view­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and add an ar­ray of color to back­yard habi­tats. Plant­ing but­ter­fly lar­val host plants like hol­ly­hock, fen­nel, vi­o­lets, paw­pawand asters will also en­cour­age but­ter­flies to come to your gar­den.

• Re­mem­ber the field guide and binoc­u­lars. Watch­ing wildlife can be fun for the en­tire fam­ily, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing Ge­or­gia’s rich di­ver­sity of wild an­i­mals and plants. Close-fo­cus­ing (6 feet or less) binoc­u­lars al­low you to ob­serve but­ter­flies up close. Field guides to birds and but­ter­flies are great re­sources in help­ing iden­tify species.

• Use na­tive plants. Na­tive wildlife is adapted to the plants, and they are adapted to sur­viv­ing un­der lo­cal con­di­tions with lit­tle need for ex­tra fer­til­izer or wa­ter.

• With proper plan­ning any yard can fea­ture trees, shrubs and other plants that will pro­vide food, shel­ter and habi­tat for wildlife. For more in­for­ma­tion on spring plant­ing for birds and but- ter­flies, visit Wildlife Re­sources’ Web site, www.geor­giaw­ildlife. com, click “Nongame An­i­mals & Plants” and choose “Back­yard Wildlife – Wildlife in Your Back­yard.”

Do­na­tions to the “Give Wildlife a Chance” State In­come Tax Check­off and sales of wildlife li­cense plates fea­tur­ing a bald ea­gle or a ruby-throated hum­ming­bird sup­port con­ser­va­tion projects for nongame wildlife and plants in Ge­or­gia. The nongame plates are the pri­mary source of fund­ing for Wildlife Re­sources’ Nongame Con­ser­va­tion Sec­tion, which re­ceives no state fund­ing.

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