Welcoming Wildlife To The Garden

By Mary Ellen Ellis | January 30, 2022
Image by John Callery
by Mary Ellen Ellis
January 30, 2022

For a long time, I fought against the local wildlife that destroyed some of my plants. I love animals, but they are not always conducive to gardening. Eventually I tried something new. Instead of fighting nature, I embraced it. I changed my attitude, and now I share my garden and love it more than ever. 

How Wildlife Has Ransacked My Garden

I live in a suburban area, but it’s an older subdivision with lots of natural spaces left between developments, big trees, and parks. This means we have squirrels, deer, raccoons, opossums, rabbits, hawks, crows, songbirds, foxes, and even coyotes. 

It’s always a pleasure to see the animals outside, just living their lives, but over the years they have done a number on my garden. They have eaten my hostas down to nubs some years, destroyed a new hydrangea, and nibbled through coleus

One year, an animal grabbed my entire tomato plant and dragged it out of the container. I believe it was a fox because it left a little identifiable package behind. I’ve tried all kinds of things over the years: deterrent sprays made with hot sauce or soapy water; predator urine to deter rabbits; companion planting marigolds around vegetables; and cages. 

Giving up the Battle and Welcoming Wildlife

Each of these strategies worked to some degree. Together, they added up to a lot of extra work and some weird smells. Instead of continuing to fight the natural environment, I decided to embrace it. 

I put out bird seed and nuts year round. I even put out a water dish, which the squirrels love. I stopped growing vegetables and stick with herbs, which the animals leave alone. If a critter gets one of my plants now, I just shrug my shoulders. I’ve developed a very Zen attitude about it. 

When I changed my attitude and strategy, something great happened. It’s now unusual to go a day without seeing some wildlife in my yard. I can sit outside in the summer and toss nuts to squirrels, even feeding some out of my hand. The deer come in the evening and aren’t afraid to get too close. I enjoy watching rabbits hop around, nibbling on grass, and birds swooping in for seeds. It’s a much richer garden.

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