In the past two RebEarth posts, we looked first at how humans could design the world for the benefit of both people and animals.  Then we took a look at how wildlife is adapting to urban areas.  In this final post of the series, we’ll explore ways in which a typical backyard can become a healthy, safe habitat for wildlife.

The suggestions are intended to be simple and easy to implement.  Try as many as you can, and watch for new visitors to your yard.

1.  Big Lawn? Big Yawn…

Wide open green spaces of perfectly manicured lawn may look nice to some, but animals and birds find it completely useless and boring. There’s no food, no place to shelter, and no variety of plants. Consider reducing the amount of lawn in your yard by planting a variety of native trees, bushes, shrubs and flowers. Not only will it save you mowing time and look great, it will provide neighborhood wildlife with much more of what it needs.

2.  Plant Native Trees, Bushes & Flowers

As mentioned above, when it comes to planting, native species are preferable to non-native. Mother Nature carefully paired the plants and animals in each regional eco-system and they’ve proven their worth over thousands of years. Don’t mess with it!

A pollinator garden.

3.  No Pesticides

Don’t use pesticides! Not on your lawn; not on the flowers; not anywhere else. Besides saving money, you’ll prevent your yard from being covered in chemicals that poison more than what they’re intended for. Let’s move past the idea of what a nice lawn and garden look like, and move back to what they naturally look like.

4. Plant Milkweed!

I admit, milkweed won’t be the most beautiful thing in the garden, but you know what might be?  The monarchs that will stop by to feast on it.  Monarchs are fascinating insects that migrate thousands of miles each year.  The journey requires lots of food and milkweed is their 5-star restaurant.  Monarchs were recently put on the Endangered Species list, and planting milkweed is the number one way we can help them.

5. Hand Out Free Drinks

Save the beer and soda- all you need here is a simple source of water.  Maybe a birdbath, or an inverted trash can lid, or a pan of some sort; anything that provides water 24/7 will be greatly appreciated by the thirsty birds and animals in your area.

No grass, no problem!

6. Don’t Be Bugged By Bugs

I know, easier said than done, right?  You can still scream and get grossed out by bugs, just don’t set up traps and bug-zapping lights.  And definitely no pesticides on the grass (see #3)!  Whether in the air or buried underground, bugs provide an important source of food for birds and other animals- let’s not reduce the menu.

7. Don’t Let The Cat Out Of The Bag

By bag, I mean- house.  Your house.  Cats are very destructive when left to roam the neighborhood all night.  They tend to prey on small birds and mammals (like bunnies).  Plus, if they aren’t spayed or neutered, their midnight escapades can contribute to the feral cat population, which is already a big problem in many communities.  Keep them inside, or consider building a “catio” for them.

8. Be Ready To Watch

The best part about increasing your backyard wildlife is watching the visitors who come in.  Get yourself a few nice lawn chairs, or a swing.  Grab a drink, and go “hunting” in your own yard.

For more RebEarth articles and other stories, visit and subscribe to Five O’Clock Shadow, an online magazine by Todd Fulginiti.