Small actions can have big results.

Here in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia, we purchased our property because of the abundance of native wildlife. The previous owners who built the house ensured that life was in perfect balance on the homestead. They grew everything organically and didn’t overdo it in garden maintenance.

As a result, we have both threatened and endangered wildlife visiting our lands regularly. It wasn’t always this way. One of our neighbors told us that over 40 years ago, just before he moved in, our homesteads were part of the same land that was cleared for livestock. There were few trees, and mostly monoculture. On his plot, the entire yard was covered with abandoned cars and scrap metal. He spent years clearing his land to turn it into the showpiece it is today.

In 1990, our house was built, and the council had specific guidelines on how the area surrounding the house would be planted to bring back the beauty and wildlife to the area. At the time, a family moved in and started the landscaping process – installing some native Eucalyptus trees and others that would provide a corridor for koalas to freely roam. These same environmentally conscious people started to buy portions of their neighbors’ properties to preserve ancient white gum and pine trees, and they planted fruit trees and an olive grove. Later, another family purchased the property and installed raised garden beds, a Japanese water garden, and a small vineyard to make their own wine. We moved to the property in 2016 and continued their tradition of environmentalism.

As you can see, they were planting seeds for the long-term health and survival of both native animals and the people who love them. Now that we own this piece of paradise, we have the same philosophy and continue with their legacy by re-establishing native plants and encouraging wildlife to thrive. We hope to live here for the rest of our lives so our daughter can continue to be a responsible steward of the land.

You can also improve your patch of land. Even small steps can have significant results.

In a climate-friendly garden, you plant strategically to attract natural predators to reduce the pests you don’t want in your garden. Here are some ways you can work toward attracting predators to help care for your garden naturally. Doing this means you don’t need to use chemical pesticides or unnatural practices to keep a healthy garden.

1. Plant Trees, Hedges, and Shrubs

Planting a variety of trees and shrubs in many different sizes and types will provide food for birds, bees, and other wildlife that are beneficial for your garden. Providing nesting sites for many different types of animals is good for the ecology of your garden.

2. Keep the Deadwood

Dying trees or parts of a dying tree have a significant use to gardeners. They are habitats for organisms that keep your garden ecosystem healthy. Fungi, mosses, and insects will attract birds to them, which will eat them. They are also habitats for snakes and other animals, so locate them strategically. Don’t worry; garden snakes are good because they eat rats and small mammals that will eat the food from your garden. As long as you don’t stick your hand in a hole in a log, or stick your hand down a crevasse, and you watch where you step, you’ll be fine.

3. Create Water Features

Creating water features can also bring wildlife to your garden. Birds, reptiles, mammals, and marsupials will all benefit from a drink in a pond. Ensure that your water features are water catchment systems. They can be as significant as a rainwater tank and pond and as simple as a well-positioned rubbish bin under a gutter downspout. You can harvest the rainwater to use during drier months. You can also save your gray water from your washer or shower if you ensure that you use the right types of soaps and detergents that are safe.

4. Keep Some Grass Long

Plant longer grasses in some areas of your lawn. It provides cover for small animals, reptiles, and caterpillars. If you leave some of your grass uncut throughout the year, alternating the areas every couple of years to avoid the grass from becoming too coarse, you’ll create plenty of places for these animals to be where they help not harm your garden. Endangered bandicoots require these brushy areas to live, so a lawn that is too well-manicured will reduce their habitat.

5. Plant Variety

It’s important to plant a diversity of different types of plants that are native to your area, and the right plants for the climate of your area. You can often discover many varieties at locally owned garden centers as opposed to chain garden centers. Doing so will help cut down on pests. I like to purchase these native plants through our local agricultural high school. They are as low as 2 for $1 there, vs. $10 each at Bunnings.

6. Encourage Wildflowers

Don’t automatically get rid of all wildflowers as “weeds”. Some of them are beautiful. They also provide food for bees and butterflies which can encourage pollination of your plants but less eating of your plants. Nettles are especially helpful for providing a breeding area for butterflies. However, be sure to study up on the pest plants that can harm livestock and choke out native plants. If it is a declared species, then you are obligated to control it.

7. Put Up Bird Houses and Nesting Boxes

If you’d like more birds in your garden, you can put up nesting boxes on walls, in fences and in trees facing the right way to provide shelter for birds. Put them up at least two metres off the ground to keep them protected. Be sure to clean these boxes each year when the birds have left the boxes to cut down on parasites.

8. Add Bat boxes to control flying bugs.

Bats can be a gardener’s best friend if you attract the kinds that eat insects. They are also quite a lot of fun to watch in twilight as they fly in erratic patterns to eat knats.

9. Respect the circle of life. As you watch the wildlife on your property, you will see animals eating other animals. If it isn’t going after your livestock, then just watch it at a distance. All of these animals are part of a larger food chain. It may seem cruel to see a snake kill and eat a mouse, but without that snake, you could end up with a mouse plague. You’ll likely see kookaburras and foxes eat bunnies. If these predators weren’t here, then you would end up with a rabbit plague. Without intervention, you have a better chance for nature to stay in balance.

10. Clear the areas directly surrounding your house for bushfire control, but allow other areas to grow into native bushlands to create wildlife corridors.

If you cant work with your neighbors to help with this, your entire neighborhood can help native species repopulate areas in just one generation.

If you practice these 10 simple practices, you will naturally attract just the right wildlife to your garden, helping you protect against disease and pests naturally without chemicals and fuel-based pesticides. Together we can heal the planet.

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