What Improvements Have You Made?

Have you created a pond? Planted native wildflowers? Put out bird feeders? Please share what improvements you've made to your yard to attract native wildlife! This is our chance to learn from one another.

Posted by fwc-paso fwc-paso, February 15, 2018 19:05

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Fantastic Project! My backyard is located in East Central Florida and I have been successful with several improvements in my home landscape. These enhancements include, planting native trees, shrubs, and flowers. In addition to planting a diverse landscape, I created opportunities to increase wildlife richness on my property by installing several nesting structures, a bird bath, a few bird feeders for migratory and local birds, and created brush piles/composing areas. The nesting structures on my site include a occupied bat house, Screech owl nest box, and six nesting boxes for various birds (i.e. for Carolina wrens, Tufted titmouse, Woodpeckers, Screech-owls, Crested Flycatchers and Purple Martins and just about anything else that needs refuge. I am looking forward to contributing to this Florida Nature Trackers project and feel excited to see what others are having success with in their own backyards.

Bryan

Posted by mrbryanames over 2 years ago (Flag)
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@mrbryanames That sounds amazing! Thanks for the comment and ideas for others to apply to their yards. It will be interesting to see what folks are able to record as a result of habitat enhancements at home.

Posted by petekleinhenz over 2 years ago (Flag)
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I converted the entire yard, front and back, in my residential neighborhood to native plants. My intention was to create a wildlife habitat for central Florida birds, butterflies, bees, wasps, spiders, snakes, squirrels, and any other native wildlife. I have created all the components of a wildlife habitat: water features, diversity of plant types (ground cover, shrubs, trees, wildflowers, vines, grasses), and vertical diversity, for cover/protection, and food and places to raise young. Most of the the wildlife habitat components come simply from the plant types, species, and diversity. Also I included constructed features, such as bee boxes for solitary bees and wasps to lay their eggs, and nesting boxes for cavity nesting birds and flying squirrels. I did not amend the soil at all, as native plants survive well in just the native soil ecosystem of bacteria and fungi. Irrigation was changed to drip irrigation, which I seldom have to use, thus conserving water. The last component to mention is me--it is my spiritual refuge, a place to observe and find peace.

Posted by carolspears about 2 years ago (Flag)
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@carolspears Incredible! Your yard sounds like prime wildlife habitat. And I like your inclusion of snakes in that list :-) Thanks for sharing. It feels so good to know there are people like you out there making such important strides for the environment. I'm trying to convert my yard to almost all natives. It's a struggle when it's been planted in mostly exotics up to this point!

Posted by petekleinhenz about 2 years ago (Flag)
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I have improved my almost three acres mostly by leaving it alone. When I moved here thirty-two years ago the land had been mostly cleared for agriculture with only a few oaks, live and laurel, standing and the wild growth from two or three years of neglect. At the time I was in the lawn care racket and my first instinct was to whip the place into shape by bending its will to commonplace landscaping. The greatest opposition to my plan was toward the front of the property where the land was low and prone to filling with water during the summer, making it impossible to tame. One winter afternoon after it dried out I decided that to rid the lowland of the pesky dog fennel I would get a shovel and dig it out. That's not easy and after digging out a half dozen plants I had an epiphany, like Paul on the road to Tarsus, and clearly saw that I was fighting a a battle that I could not win and that I would be much happier and have more time on my hands if I would just leave it alone. That is what I did and now about 2/3's of my home is wild and to "let it go" is probably one of the best choices I have ever made. At that time I began taking care of the yard of Mary Ruth McCracken who lived in a developed area on the shores of Lake Dora between Mt Dora and Tavares, a property her family had owned since the 1930's. She was a trained botanical artist who was especially interested in Florida native plants--you can see her work in the Lake County Water Authority's guide to Lake County wetlands. In the midst of homes with manicured lawns her property stood out for its wildness -- and beauty. She hired me to take care of the limited yard around her house and over the years she taught me almost all I know about botany and native plants. I learned how to identify and photograph plants, collect and propagate them and the relationships between plants and their environment. All this I put to use by bring wild plants onto "my" property so that now it is almost like I live in the woods. It helps that the property next to me has been left undeveloped though it has been for sale 10-15 years and now is an extension of "my" woods. And that low, wet end of the property that defeated me and opened my eyes, it is now a cypress wetland which in this wet summer is under 3-4 feet of water and the the four cypress I planted years ago (three bald and one pond) have grown knees and produced a dozen or more offspring. I love it and it never ceases to amaze me with its beauty, its evolution through the years and the wonder of the changing seasons.

Posted by brownedbear almost 2 years ago (Flag)
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That is phenomenal! Although not always possible depending on where we live, nature will often reclaim sites and native plants/wildlife will return on their own without us even having to do much. I'm sure, in terms of native species, your yard is in much better shape than it used to be! Thank you so much for taking the time to write about the transformation your yard has undergone.

Posted by petekleinhenz almost 2 years ago (Flag)
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And, it involves a lot less labor! Thanks for the comment.

Posted by brownedbear almost 2 years ago (Flag)

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