The Birds and the Bees: Growing a Garden That Will Attract Life

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The Birds and the Bees: Growing a Garden That Will Attract Life
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One of the perks of having a home garden is watching the wildlife it attracts pass by. While gardeners and flower-eating deer will continue to headbutt, birds, hummingbirds and butterflies are welcome pollinators -- they borrow your yard for snacking and nesting, and in return they give you a garden full of sounds, colors and new life.

"If you provide food, water and a place to nest, you will get wildlife," said Louise Hodges, a landscape designer with 20 years of experience and her own natural pest control company (greenbugallnatural.com). Some plants attract more wildlife than others, and if you want to ensure you'll always have some guests in the garden, it's good to know which ones.

Attracting Butterflies
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Attracting Butterflies

"If you go outside and plant one butterfly bush, you'll get butterflies," Hodges said. "But if you really want a variety of different butterfly species, you'll have to do a bit of research into host plants and bloom time." Butterflies have a complex life cycle of four stages, two of which require different host plants, one for laying eggs and one for food.

Attracting Birds
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Attracting Birds

"All you need to need to attract birds is some kind of plant that produces some kind of seeds or nuts that birds would eat," Hodges said. "Your water source can be a pond or a birdbath, and your nesting site can be anything from dense shrubbery to a birdhouse." There are hundreds of trees that attract birds, but sometimes it's helpful to go plant by plant to decide which is best for your yard.

Attracting Hummingbirds
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Attracting Hummingbirds

"Hummingbirds are drawn to red," Hodges said. "They also really like perennials, because perennials are putting as much energy as they can into being as attractive as possible." If you want hummingbirds in your garden, plant something fragrant, like honeysuckle vine, or plant bright, attractive perennials, such as red-hot poker.

Honeysuckle Vine
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Honeysuckle Vine

• Bloom time: Summer and fall • Zones: 4 to 9 • Care: Plant this vine along garden fences and borders. • Attracts: Hummingbirds

Eucalyptus Tree
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Eucalyptus Tree

• Zones: 8 to 10 • Care: Plant in the sun, in moist, well-drained soil.
• Attracts: Hummingbirds, birds and butterflies

Butterfly Bush
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Butterfly Bush

• Bloom time: Summer • Zones: 5 to 10 • Care: Plant this shrub in the sun, along borders, in beds or on slopes. • Attracts: Hummingbirds, birds and butterflies

Red-Hot Poker
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Red-Hot Poker

• Bloom time: Summer • Zones: 5 to 9 • Care: Plant this tall, tubular plant in beds and containers in sunny or partially sunny locations. • Attracts: Hummingbirds, birds and butterflies

Yucca
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Yucca

• Bloom time: Summer to fall • Zones: 4 to 11 • Care: Plant these pointy plants along garden borders so as not to impale anyone strolling by them. • Attracts: Hummingbirds, birds and butterflies

Iris
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Iris

• Bloom time: Spring, sometimes twice • Zones: 3 to 9 • Care: Plant irises in beds, on slopes or as ground cover. • Attracts: Hummingbirds, birds and butterflies

Beech Tree
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Beech Tree

• Zones: 5 to 8 • Care: Plant beech trees in full sun to get the most out of their color. • Attracts: Birds

Lime Tree
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Lime Tree

• Bloom time: Spring and summer • Zones: 10 to 11 • Care: Plant lime trees in the sun. • Attracts: Birds

Lavender
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Lavender

• Bloom time: Summer • Zones: 5 to 10 • Care: Plant this sun-loving herb in a location with good drainage. • Attracts: Hummingbirds, birds and butterflies

Rosemary
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Rosemary

• Bloom time: Summer and warm winters • Zones: 6 to 10 • Care: Plant in full sun. • Attracts: Birds and butterflies

Crabapple
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Crabapple

• Bloom time: Spring • Zones: 3 to 8 • Care: Plant in full sun. • Attracts: Birds

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