Gardening: Creature Comforts

By Alisa Opar

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Forgetting to cover your trash bin might attract critters, but there are better ways to turn your yard into an animal mecca. Even if you’re a city dweller, you can register your lawn as a wildlife sanctuary with the National Wildlife Federation, a conservation nonprofit. More than 74,000 people nationwide have shunned sod, ponied up $15, and ensured their yards provide animals with food, water, cover, and places to raise young. Here are a few simple tips that will help you turn your estate into a bona fide animal house.


evergreens or dense shrubs to create cover for creatures. Put in native flora that bloom (butterflies, hummingbirds, and beneficial insects can’t resist them) or produce berries that can serve as wintertime snacks for hungry critters. Visit for native- plant suggestions.

BUILD a birdhouse or frog pond to provide a safe place for animals to raise babies. For shelter—and a hands-on weekend project—create a rock wall or rain garden. If shovels aren’t your thing, buy a birdbath or feeder.

DON'T USE pesticides and fertilizers. Instead, place mulch around plants—it reduces the need for fertilizers and water. If you can’t go chemical-free, use products with a low environmental impact quotient, which is a measure of pesticide toxicity.  (Check out for ratings on 300 common pesticides).

Issue 25

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