How to Design a Wildlife-Friendly Landscape

We love watching the bunnies hopping across the lawn until they dine on our favorite plants. Finding ways to coexist with wildlife is critical to their survival and our sense of wellbeing.

Here are some ideas.

  • Create circular or square garden beds that have more interior space and less border space. Long linear beds with more edges allow easier dining access.
  • Work with neighbors to create large corridors of habitat for wildlife.
  • Protect key gardens and plants with fending.  Make sure it’s high enough, tight to the ground, and gates are secure.
  • If you use repellents, select products labeled for the animals you’re trying to manage. Look for a product like organic, bird- and pollinator-friendly Plantskydd (, that’s rain- resistant, requiring fewer applications.
  • Cultivate a natural balance in your landscape. Invite hawks, owls and foxes to your backyard. Grow tall grasses and plants that provide cover. Include trees with good perches to attract raptors. 
  • Start with a plan. Sketch your existing landscape and identify plants and wildlife-friendly habitats. Note the natural habitats and any supplemental food, water and shelter you provide. Review and update it throughout the year. Now decide what you want to accomplish. What wildlife do you want to attract and have space to support? Perhaps you want to attract more songbirds, or animals like toads, which help to manage pests. Make sure your landscape provides the habitat features needed to attract and sustain these welcome residents.
  • Utilize resources such as National Wildlife Federation, Audubon, Natural Resources Conservation Services, DNR and University Extension websites.

Be patient and evaluate the results of your efforts after a year, then make any needed changes. Developing a landscape you enjoy takes time and is an exciting adventure! ❚

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books and hosts TV, radio and Great Courses programs about gardening. Learn more at