• Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Was it challenging to map out your space and figure out what growing conditions you have? Where in your yard do you think you’ll start naturescaping, and why? Share your ideas in the discussion below.
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    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      The biggest challenge are the terraced beds on the north side of the house.  They receive morning sun, but are in shade most of the day.  I would like to try planting ferns, hostas and some flowering annuals in the most shady parts.  The lowest bed gets the most sun, and I plan to plant some sun-loving flowering plants (salvia, lantana, etc.) around a low birdbath.  I also need to identify some good ground covers for this bed, as it's quite large.  Another idea is to put up some trellises along the south edge of the lowest bed, which abuts the patio.  That would provide a place for climbing plans as well as some privacy.
    • JadeJean
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      *For some reason the first part of my post submitted, but not the rest.
      • Ecoregion: https://bplant.org/ecoregion_locator.php
        • North America
          • Great Plains I
          • South Central Semi-Arid Prairies II
          • Texas Blackland Prairies III:
            • https://bplant.org/region/89
            • https://bplant.org/search.php?region_id=89&status_type_id=1
          • Northern Blackland Prairie IV:
            • https://bplant.org/region/525
      • Hardiness Zone: 15-20 (20-25 zone also touches at a bulge, so I need to pay attention to this) Blackland Prairies
      • I will summarize what I had originally posted. I have joined the Dallas Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, so I can learn significantly more about my region due to how specific the rich, moisture-retaining black clay soil is here. I have quite the vertical diversity here already, so I definitely want to keep in mind the wetter and shadier areas versus my very open pasture region which already has a few native wildflower species that I let grow as they please, but I would like to add more native species. I have joined this program and plan to get certified with their Native Landscape Certification Program (NLCP). I also hope to be able to take their Companion Class – Native Landscapes for Birds, because Aves are the main reason that I have been doing all of this!
      • Within the Northern Blackland Prairie 32a, my region also touches Floodplains and Low Terraces 32c. With my work with the Wetland Center, 32c will be more prevalent, while my specific home area will be mostly 32a except for the natural spring pond area. I am about eight miles from the Wetland Center which makes this a funky area with the Trinity and its runoffs nearby, as well.
      • Blackland Prairies 32a and 32c
    • JadeJean
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      • Ecoregion: https://bplant.org/ecoregion_locator.php
        • North America
          • Great Plains I
          • South Central Semi-Arid Prairies II
          • Texas Blackland Prairies III:
            • https://bplant.org/region/89
            • https://bplant.org/search.php?region_id=89&status_type_id=1
          • Northern Blackland Prairie IV:
            • https://bplant.org/region/525
      • Hardiness Zone:
        • 15-20 (20-25 zone also touches at a bulge, so I need to pay attention to this).
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      I have a small garden area on the edge of my back patio where I have a butterfly bush and plant annuals. This year I am going native with this area as my first attempt at native plant gardening. I still have to pull up the butterfly bush. I am looking for perennials that will attract hummingbirds, butterflies and benefit our birds that also visit our many backyard feeders. I bought my first two native plants yesterday at a native plant society event and realized I have to pay attention to the info about height, one I bought might grow to 5 ft which is taller than I want for the patio area. I may put it in another area of my yard where I also plan to do some native plants, or just plant it at the far end of the patio garden with a replacement native shrub for the butterfly bush can give it some background or support if needed if it grows tall. The native plants are more expensive than non-native as I expected. I am giving myself some slack to live and learn, I will make some "mistakes" but will learn from them. Actually nothing is a mistake, it is all a learning experience.
    • Nina J
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      This has been a thorn in my side for years now. My husband, who loves his grass, has finally agreed to give me the back yard and he can keep the manicured front yard. I am what you call a "plopper." I buy native plants and receive some from friends but just plop them in the ground without designing the space. However, I am aware of the different elements and "plop" accordingly. Money is also an obstacle. The birds I get are great but my plantings are pitiful looking. I don't do "redos" very well. Backyard IMG_4168Front bed along path IMG_4880Front path IMG_4882
      • Lisa
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        That looks absolutely lovely! I think you “plop” very well!
    • Pamela
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Last year I planted a number of new native plants and they did not do as well as I had hoped.  There are some areas of my yard where I have trouble finding just the right plant for the conditions. So last summer I made a map of the yard and went outside on the hour, every hour from arising to sunset to observe which areas were sunny, shady or partly sunny.  As a result, I was able to map how many hours of sun each area received.  Some areas gave me a surprise, since trees had grown up and blocked areas that I assumed to be sunny. Armed with this data, I hope to make better choices this year. The most challenging areas are around the bird feeders - because I need to be able to clean up around the feeders, yet provide protection for the birds.
    • Madalyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I'm in an Eastern Temperate Forest and am in Hardiness Zone 7.  I think my yard gets quite a lot of sun, but it's tricky to tell since it's March, and I'm afraid when the trees have leaves it will become shadier?  How do I plan for this?  I feel very intimidated about choosing spaces for new beds.  Ideally, my whole front yard would no longer be grass, but we're brand new homeowners so I think I'll have to settle for a smaller patch this first year and expand, due to not being able to spend a ton of money and also learning the ropes.  It's intimidating to know where to start in the yard.  I might make kind of a random bean-shaped bed of natives in the front yard to start.  Then, I have a very damp and shady patch in the back that I'd like to add some ground cover to.  I was thinking wild ginger and heartless foamflower.
      • Pamela
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        Hi Madalyn - I get intimidated too - but remember you don't have to do everything at once. You can phase it in as you get to know the property.
      • Nina J
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        Yes! I too feel intimidated to design new beds and where to place them. I have the mindset of once planted, it's permanent, which is ridiculous.
    • Mike
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I live in North West Nevada almost in California. Our Ecoregion is: Cold Desert, Central Basins and range, Sierra Nevada influenced semi arid hills and basin. Quite a mouth full. In short: cold in the winter hot and dry in the summer, with little moisture. I believe we get about 8 inches of rain on average per year.  I have clay soil with pockets of sand. I have grown vegetables for a long time with some success. Last summer we had very bad smoke from the California fires, so even the vegi's didn't get enough sun light. This has become a summer problem. O' and we only have 4 months between frosts to grow. I have counted birds in the Cornell bird count for 12 seasons now, but it finally dawned on me that I could get new and different birds if I planted more native plants. As you can see I am a slow learner. I have Jeffery pines in part of my yard but they all suffer with bug damage. I have a number of Buffalo Berry bushes which the birds love but they only have berries several months of the year. I leave my vegi's to go to seed and don't clean up the yard which helps ground feeder, but I want to expand the native ornamental's. The problem here is where to find plants that will survive this climate. The local nursery's don't carry much native plants. They seem to like Southern California types. I finally found a local nursery in Truckee California about 60 miles from me. So I will have to travel some to purchase locally. The picture is my front yard view.P1000223
    • Margo
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      My ecoregion is Marine West Coast Forest, which is very true for my yard just south of Seattle, WA.  I'm in zone 8a-b.  Most of the lawn here was removed before we moved in five years ago, and I removed the rest.  We have a heavily wooded lot, lots of pine cones for birds feeding.  The soil is more sandy than anything else, very poor quality due to the yard being covered by black plastic and fabric years ago.  I am spending a lot of time working to improve the soil with mulch.  I've added vertical features for birds to sit on and turned the front yard into a park like environment - dry pond, two park benches, two birdbaths grasses.  This is the first year I've seen birds actually bathing, not just drinking out of the birdbaths!  I even had an immature Cooper's Hawk sit down in the birdbath and bathe. I'm focusing on native plants to add to the yard.  I have two new Mahonia plants, and I've read that birds eat the berries.  I haven't seen any evidence of that so far.  Coneflower and hypericum are attracting birds, and my bee balm was a hummingbird favorite along with my hardy fuchsia.  Adding to my non-plan, I want to include a blueberry bush and maybe a crabapple tree. My backyard is really shaded about 90%+ of the time.  I am struggling to create a bird friendly environment there.  I do have a popular birdbath there, plus a suet feeder that is beloved by Northern Flickers.  I need to identify more shade loving native plants.
    • Anne
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I had an area that was completely weeds from previous owners.  Last summer I started attacking the weeds and planting beneficials.  I wanted to create a multiple purpose garden including a "Mary garden" and a cottage garden.  But I soon modified my garden to a bird and pollinator garden.  I have many plants with trumpet flowers such as Agastache. for my hummingbirds.  I used tube feeders and have had 2 male goldfinches all summer long along with a variety of doves, finches sparrows.  I think the miserable neighborhood cat killed my sole woodpecker.  I also have four California quail.  I did not start off with a plan.  I just started planting, planting all over.  I still do not use a plan.  I see an empty space and I just try to fill it.  Today I purchased a high growing blueberry bush.  At 6'x6' I really am a little stumped where I will try to place that!   but the thought of all of those berries for my birds plus the cover was just too tempting.  I think it is the first lesson where the writer speaks of gardening as a type of art.  I view gardening this way and although I do not remember all of my plant names or spacings, I really do feel passionate about developing such beautiful life=giving space around me.  I plant native plants and others.
      • Margo
        Participant
        Chirps: 10
        I loved your comment about the 6' x 6' blueberry bush.  I also don't have a plan, although I think I have been trial and error planning for the past four years.  I want to add a blueberry bush (smaller than 6'!) and a crab apple tree.  I have been paying much more attention to native plants and plants that attract birds.  I liked the idea from the previous lesson - 2/3 for the birds.
      • Colleen
        Participant
        Chirps: 3

        @Margo I don't have much of a plan -- I see or read about a native I decide I want, and just kind of find a place for it as I go. I have tried planning but things never really end up that way -- something I want isn't available, I run across somethong I like better, etc... My only plan is, is it native and beneficial to birds or pollinators? I am afraid my yard will probably end up being a mishmash, but at least it will be a beneficial mishmash!! Nature isn't perfect at planning either, so I think I'm ok.

    • Leonard
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      My ecoregion is 'Long Island Sound Coastal Lowland' and hardiness zone is USDA 7a (0 to 5 degree F). My wife and I have lived on our current property for 35 years and, up to now, have continued maintaining a traditional non-native lawn/landscaping that we 'inherited' from the previous owner. It is a work-in-progress but we are continuing to convert to native flora (learning a lot and having a great time doing it!). I believe native gardening is just starting to take hold in our area and we have found nurseries are starting to get the message. Mapping out our space and determining growing conditions has been a trial and error process to determine what native plants do best where but we are making real progress. The first area that we designated as all native was an area between two trees (a large oak and Norwegian Spruce) that was not ideal for either lawn or non-native flora. It is now not only an anesthetically beautiful view out our front window but a food source for both birds and pollinators.
    • Armando
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      My local ecoregion is the California Mediterranean. My hardiness zone appears to be 9b. It is also surrounded by 10a areas. I wish the native plant databases I used contained this information when I look up the plants though. They just have other info on the plants like drainage, and soil tolerance which I suppose is very useful too but no hardiness numbers. I did a squeeze test as well as a drainage test on my soil and I found that I definitely have some slow draining clay soil! It gets very packed when wet and there is no sign of any other soil type below. At the start of this season I actually also made a map of my yard noting the sun as well. All this information has helped a lot with narrowing down what plants I can use. So in summery, the spot I am going to be planting in gets part shade, has clay soil, and is located in a 9a hardiness zone.
    • Jenifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      I have both plants to remove and plants to put in. I am focusing on trying to remove some invasives from my property. There are a lot of them.  I am investigating how to create a natural hedgerow at the border of my property. I have a hedge that I share with neighbors of  invasive burning bushes that I would like to have removed. I would like to replace the hedge with a natural hedgerow (just read about the difference between the two) but have to wait while my neighbors determine their property edge. They want to keep their invasives. So, meanwhile I will have to plant several elderberry bushes somewhere else on my property so I have to determine where to put them. I read they do well near white pine but my white pine area create a lot of shade, so I am not sure that is the best place for them. Also, I would like to create a layering in my yard of bushes,, so I have to focus on creating a plan overall of my yard, focuses on plants that create food for birds all year round. It is an enormous task that will take a long time, so I will have to work on areas of the yard little by little. I have a hemlock tree that is being attacked by Hemlock Wooly  Adelgid (not sure spelling is correct). . Any suggestions on something ecologically friendly to get rid of them? I live in Connecticut - the Northeast - and know that a lot of Hemlocks are being attacked by this insect.
    • Noreen
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Work in progress!
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 28
      I actually started with a small garden for monarch butterflies, following the recommendations for my locale, as provided by the North American Butterfly Assn. It was so exciting when monarchs, as well as other butterflies came, that I expanded to create a large native prairie garden in a 300 sq ft gardening bed. It was large enough that I have some regrets I didn't just sow it with native prairie seed mixes. I had a color scheme in mind of purples, pinks, blues, and whites. So, I planted purple coneflowers throughout, with some purple poppy mallow, wild nodding onion, swamp milkweed, common milkweed, blue lobelia, blue indigo, ironweed, New England aster, dogbane, wild bergamot, foxwood beardtongue, pearly everlasting, wild strawberry, joe pye weed, prairie phlox, prairie dropseed grass, bluestem grass, indian grass, and side oats grama grass. Purple coneflowers are wonderful because they bloom a long time and multiply. They transplant well. I'm happy I did this color scheme, which is in full bloom now. There was another area that was more difficult in terms of landscaping, because I had to invent the garden beds. I finally realized it would be best as a courtyard. I created flowering hedges on three sides with borders of flowers in front and a circular garden in the center with a hummingbird feeder. I had a small patio made to look out on the courtyard. There's a secret garden feel to it that I love, which is nice variety to the prairie garden beyond and the open woodland look of the front yard. I still have lawn to get rid of in the front yard and got some good ideas from our class about native ground covers.
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I recently put in a pollinator bed with butterfly weed, swamp milkweed, beauty bush, winter berries, and other pollinator friendly native plants. I also had a rain garden and large conservation landscape with native plants and shrubs installed, a permeable patio with native plants surrounding it, and two shade beds in my front yard. I am planning on converting the back yard bit by bit into planting beds, and putting a few more beds in the front yard. It's my 5-year plan! I would also like to find a water element to add to the back gardens. Now, I just need a year or so survival and growth.
    • I can't place any trees or plants because of the house I live in, we only one the house and a small amount of plants and feeders in our backyard. I like everyones storys, though!
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      It wasn't challenging to map out my yard and look up my ecoregion and hardiness zone. Because there is so much to do, I find that I have a few projects going on at once. I have so many invasive growing under the wooded area of my yard.  Last year I had an eco-goat service come to knock down the weeds. It was fun watching the goats eat! We were able to maintain control and plant some areas. We have scheduled the goats to come and redo some spots and hit some new areas. There are many non-native ornamentals that we have marked for removal. So far we have removed all of the barberry bushes and replanted with Carolina spicebush and black chokeberry. We removed some Japanese Spirea and put in native wildflowers. I have more spirea that needs to go, plus catmint, skip or cherry laurel, non-native viburnums, etc. We have expand the flower beds and the beds around tree and added native bushes and ground covers. I'd like to replace the lawn with some native options. We have made a start, but there is still a long way to go.
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I have ordered some seed for a pollinator garden from Ernst Conservation Seed.  I plan to convert a mown lawn space into a pollinator garden, starting with a space that's about 8' x 4' and expanding over several years.  I would also like to put up a deer fence to protect some of the wild raspberry bushes to save them for the birds.
    • Jennifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I have started a partial shade meadow in our backyard.  The big challenge has been garlic mustard weed, which outstrips every other plant.  My husband has been “mowing” with the trimmer, and I hope my seeds will come through.  It is a 4y year endeavour and we are in year 1.  I have planted a number of native understory trees and bushes, like elderberry, mountain laurel, wit hazel, etc.  Wandering around out there, I came upon Jack in the pulpit and I have been nursing them along. on the upside, I have found a downy woodpecker nest.  That was pretty exciting!  There are a number of snags back there, so we’ll see who else shows up.  I really like the song birds at my feeders, and I am not sure they will be happy about owls, but it would be neat to hear them.  I printed some of the birdhouse plans and hope to work on that this winter.
      • One good thing about Garlic Mustard is that it pulls up easily.  I learned about it last year when I started volunteering to do "maintenance" at our local Audubon Bird Sanctuary. One day I filled two dozen large garbage bags with them.  Some were nearly five feet tall.  But the folks who taught me explained that GM is a bi-annual so any seeds that sprout this year don't flower and generate new seeds until next year.  So in my own yard last year, I concentrated on pulling all those in flower.  This spring I did the same - and pulled them from the neighbor's yard too. I expect going forward I'll have many fewer to pull - only seeds that blow in from someplace else. From the Audubon Society folks I also learned about and got rid of the Amur Honeysuckle, Oriental Bittersweet, Creeping Charlie, White Clover, and a few others.  With the room to grow and get sun,  this year I found three Jack-in-the-Pulpit plants and the open space that used to hold all the GM is now filled with native Virginia Creeper.  I'm feeling pretty good about what I've been doing so far.
    • Christopher
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Currently I'm collecting native plants to redo the flower bed in the front yard. Along with this remodel I will be removing lawn. There is also a water feature in that area. In addition I plan on remodeling order bed by removing invasives and replacing negatives.
    • LAURA
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I am excited to start a small native plant patch with a birdbath to help attract additional species. The biggest problem we have is our "soil," which is really just clay and rocks.
      • Jennifer
        Participant
        Chirps: 4
        I feel your pain.  I am gradually adding mulch to our clay, year by year, yard by yard.  It is beginning to show a difference, and it is worth it.  I read that clay soil is very nutritious, so if we can just lighten it up a bit, it will be great for plants.