• 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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    • Sheila
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I live in zone 10a in west Florida and I have been trying to get to know my back yard for a couple of years.  Salt tolerant is important since we do occasionally have salt water intrusion.  Soil is mostly sandy, with some spots that have apparently been amended, and they are more loamy.  We do have some sea grapes that have been here for years and a southern live oak which is mature, albeit having been pruned less than expertly some time ago.  It seems to have recovered from that and is healthy with plenty of gaps in the tree canopy for wind mitigation.  I am going to be naturescaping the yard closest to my house with some native plants to attract butterflies, and birds with beautyberry and also the sea grapes which do produce fruit.   Trying to figure out how to discourage fruit rats, while encouraging squirrels and birds, is my toughest challenge.
    • Marjorie
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      I found the tools to identify my Ecoregion and hardiness zone to be user friendly. I am in the Ohio / Kentucky Carboniferous Plateau which is part of the Western Allegheny Plateau with a hardiness zone 6a – 6b with a lot of clay in my soil. I knew I had clay but I had never heard of the squeeze test before so that was fun.   I have partial sun with established perennial flower gardens in my front and back yard. I was pleased to see I have a good start on native offerings in my gardens. I also have some fruit trees and berry bushes. I learned that some of my plants such as Butterfly Bush (which is pretty and will attract butterflies) is not native to my area and will not be right choice for my nature scape area. Last year I planted a patch of native milkweed with seeds provided by our local natural resource center so I want to expand that area with more native plants for birds and butterflies. I appreciate the resources and information provided to get me on the right path.
    • Luis Lauro
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      IMG_4734 IMG_4738 IMG_4740 Changes to adapt the Garden to place Native Plants from my Region in Pots, based on the following topics learned: Ecoregion Plant Hardiness Zone.   Supporting me on the following topics: • Includes Native plants. Wildflower Ethics and Native Plants Ethics and Native Plants (usda.gov) Find Plants: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin Plants Database. USDA Plants Database.   Supporting me on the following topics: • Get to Know your Birds. The CornellLab Merlin ID. All About Birds. Online bird guide, bird ID help, life history, bird sounds from Cornell All About Birds eBird About eBird - eBird eBird Essentials | Bird Academy • The Cornell Lab (allaboutbirds.org) eBird Essentials - Complete Course. Lady Bird Johnson Wild Center Database. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin Audubon Native Plants Database Native Plants | Audubon   • How to safely feed birds Feeding Birds - FeederWatch HUMMINGBIRDS: BirdNotes02-Attracting-Hummingbirds.pdf (feederwatch.org)   I will consult additional information with the nurseries and greenhouses in my Region Zone 9a to complement the Potting Project with Native Plants.
    • Pam
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      My class and I have been working on a model of the area where we plan to start a native garden next fall. We plan to put in a small pond so there will be water for the birds, and build birdhouses, and feeders. We are working on what native plants we will place in the garden and where based on their needs. The spot we chose is sunny most of the day and is visible from our classroom. We knew that birds would feed there as we had put up bird feeders last fall and had several species of birds eat from the feeders. Luckily, we also have a section of woods nearby where birds can go to perch or find protection. This course and the feeder bird course have helped me guide my students. I can now tell them where to look to find plants native to our area. I did not know how to check the soil but now I can take my class out on Monday to check it (as long as it is not raining).  I also learned what type of houses and feeders we should make based on the birds we have had around our school.
    • Amanda
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      It was challenging as most of the resources suggested are mainly for Americans, and the Canadian classifications seem a little outdated, but I know I'm in the boreal mixedwoods from schooling experience. Thankfully, most of the non-native species in our yard is beside the house but everything else is matching the area as my parents did very little landscaping when they built our house. The place I will probably start in the yard is by the crab-apple tree at the end of our driveway; There's rocks there from where my mum wanted to create a rock garden but I'm sure I can convince her we can repurpose it into a better use of space with raspberries off the farm and alder. The biggest challenge will to be to figure out how to landscape the island in the middle of our pond. Beavers have moved in and eat everything off there. I'd like to grow some willow cuttings there but the beavers make it impossible to keep anything alive - Might have to look into metal fencing? Or something!
    • Evelyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Great resources here -- the plant databases at the Audubon and Lady Bird Johnson sites. I'll be using these for planting in both the sunny and the shady areas on my property and getting rid of turf grass and invasives.
    • It wasn't difficult.  There are just a few changes I want to make.  I really love the Audubon Native plant database.  It is so easy to use and it works by zipcode.  I also use the state university extension site, it's a great resource.
    • Megan
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I enjoyed mapping out my space, and found some neat tools for modeling which areas get the most sun. It was really helpful to learn about the squeeze test--I thought soil testing needed to be a lot more involved, so it's a relief to have an easier starting point! I also tested some soil samples with a bit of baking soda and vinegar and learned that our soil is probably slightly acidic. Now I feel like I'm on the way to understanding what to plant. I'm planning to start naturescaping in our front yard because it's smaller and not too overwhelming, but will have a big visual impact. That's also where we have most of our feeders right now so I'd like to include a wider variety of plants for birds to visit, and I'm hoping our neighbors will be able to enjoy them as well!
    • Elliot
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      It wasn't too difficult to map out my space though my growing conditions vary in my front and side yard. I want to begin naturescaping in my front yard where we took out the last of our grass last fall. I have sunny conditions in that space and my soil has a lot of clay. I plan to ammend it when I plant native plants. My plan is to add some native plants to other parts of my front  where there are partial sun and shady conditions due to large trees. My bird feeder and bird bath are also in my front yard. Along the side of my house the soil is dryer and conditions hotter again the house with partial sun conditions to shady. So I will have to research a wide variety of native plants for the varying conditions.
    • Renee
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      My hardiness zone has gone from 7b to 8a. Eastern Temperate Forest >SE US Plains >Piedmont >Southern Outer Piedmont. I have a wooded area behind my house with lawn and a veggie garden between the back deck and the house. I have containers of various sizes with flowers and veggies on the back deck. One side of the house is very wet with shade and poor drainage; the other side gets a lot of sun but there are buried utility lines. In front of the house there is a sunny area with some shade/trees toward the wetter side. The entire yard is on a slope with the house facing downhill. So far we have worked on naturescaping in the back at the edge of the wooded area and in the front around the trees.  We have removed some invasives and planted a few native plants but a lot of ivy and monkey grass still needs to come out.
    • Angela
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I found it interesting, but unfortunate and not surprising that my hardiness zone has changed in the last 10 years. It was 7a and now 8a. My current challenge is dealing with underground utilities. I want to remove grass and have garden space where there are underground utilies. Will make planting a bit more challenging than in areas where I don't have to worry about that.
    • Allison
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Eastern Temperate Forest; hardiness zone 7b; average annual minimum temperature 5-10 degrees F; mostly clay soils.   We have a front lawn with a wooded natural bed in the middle, a hilly bank along the road, and a wooded area along the side.  We have a small lawn in back with woods behind.  My efforts will concentrate on removing non-native invasives everywhere, identifying the natives that we already have, and adding more natives of all types.  I'll be concentrating on the border areas, gradually expanding the natural, wooded areas and slowly shrinking the lawn.  We have lots of mature trees, so the entire yard tends toward shade or partial shade.  The only areas that are truly sunny (6 or more hours) are right next to the driveway.  We have a few low spots that stay moist except in dry years (like this year!), but the yard has gentle slopes and tends to be dry.  I am thrilled to learn that natives require less care and less watering.  Our only exterior spigot is in the back corner of our house, so it takes three hoses together to reach my front plants.  I hate to waste water during drought years, so I feel like I have been watering enough to keep plants alive but not enough for them to thrive.  As I replace non-natives with natives, I hope to find plants that can thrive.  I've tinkered a little bit with gardening for years, and I have learned that it sometimes takes me more than one try to find the right spot for a plant.  I'll try to do more careful advance planning in the future.
    • Darlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      It was interesting to find out the specifics of my ecoregion, I'm located in the Eastern Temperate Forest, South Eastern, USA Plains, Piedmont< Southern Inner Piedmont. Commonly the area is referred to as the Upstate, Piedmont Mountain Region. Our area has a heavy clay soil consistency, in fact in dry periods the soil can be so hard that you need a pick ax or gas motor cultivator to break it up. Raised beds are popular around here for gardening flower or vegetable. There is also a lot of large granite in our area and apparently, we are on a granite that extends from one of the local mountains. We tend to have small earthquakes which generally are not noticeable. My home area is bounded by pine and deciduous forests, thus our cleared area has a number of these trees: pines, hickory, oak, dogwood, redbud and poplar (tulip) trees. Blueberries and Blackberries grow quite well in the acidic soil.  As a result of this course I am thinking of adding some winterberry for the birds and purchasing another beauty berry. We have kept the front lawn area as an open space. I have no idea what kind of grass I have but there are plenty of dandelions, violets and other wild flowers in the spring.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Ecoregion North America Eastern Temperate Forests Central USA Plains Eastern Corn Belt Plains Loamy High Lime Till Plains Look up your hardiness zone by ZIP code or by municipality name. 6a Try a squeeze test of your soil to find out if it has a lot of clay, sand, or loam. Lots of clay ,limestone and stones. We are on the edge were the glaciers stopped. An old limestone quarry is on our north side. Create a map of the growing conditions of your space. Note where it’s very wet, or dry, or gets a lot of sun, or is mostly shady. I have found a blowup map from google helps with mapping the yard. The hard part is getting a most recent picture. With this information in mind, is there a place you might like to start your naturescape? Note it on your map!
    • mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      It took a couple of years to determine the down hill flow of water and the various grasses in the yard. I have had to move some plants around the yard but eventually I found their happy place. I have nature scape in my front yard as it is flat and gets the most sun.
    • The Mass., zone is 6 a and 6 b . / I think that I may add some shrubs, like a Holly, or put potted plants, in the yards. I looked up the Holly, which is a cool looking shrub with berries, and it is very important for winter birds. Two or so are suggested, to plant, for only one style has berries, and the other not. And they may complement each other. As stated by source ? I am also going to change to a battery powered mower, only. Because I have made a lot of the changes, suggested in this course, to my yard. i.e. More grass allowed on the perimeter. Allowing messiness. Bird baths and a bird feeder. etc... However, a KOBALT/ECHO mower, is on my list for next year. For that would add an improvement to the mix, as to not have gasoline in the air, during mowing, or in the general air. / My lawn is fairly 'full,' so I know there is no sandiness, and most of the soil is not too dry, nor too swampy./ I have a weed garden, and have noticed that some sort of long stemmed dandelions are growing. /Leaving areas un-mowed, helps with the growth of natural wildflowers. I also leave areas around the trees mowed less./ I have noticed a lot of the common backyard birds. Especially wood-peckers and nuthatches./ I am going to add potted plants as needed, and install, perhaps a Holly, or a Blueberry shrub, as well as mtx. the garden I have made. bk/ ( I like the patterns, of leaving long grass, in areas that do not sacrifice the neatness of the lawn, the best. Around trees, and around  the perimeter.)  
    • Benjamin
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Since my space already has pre-established flower beds, it was easier for me to know where I wanted to create this habitat. Knowing how much sunlight hit these beds and for how long was something that took me awhile to be cognizant of, but after awhile, I have a better understanding of what sorts of plants might thrive in this area.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I live in the eastern part of the US in an area that is a border between Piedmont and Mountainous area, so at times, I need to straddle the hardiness zone of 6 and 7.  I have pretty much kept to plants that fit in both the Eastern Temperate Forest ecozone and these hardiness zones.  My big challenge is less finding native plants because they seem to be finding me as I slowly remove grassy turf and pull invasive, but more trying to keep the invasives at bay since so many of my neighbors insist on planting non-native species in their yards or they think my effort to leave native plant stems and seed pods up during the winter is being lazy. So I've set out on an education campaign by either buying premade yard signs or making my own.  Hopefully, some others might follow and convert their lawns too.
    • Anita
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      My backyard has many mature trees in it and is mostly shade.  Also, I have a dog who spends a lot of time in the yard out back.  Birds, squirrels, and chipmunks can hang out in the trees, but I don't know that I want to try and bring in many species to the back.  However, my front yard receives a lot of sun and has soil from wet to dry conditions.  Unfortunately, I'm only going to be able to plant in a couple of sections this year, as there is a 500 square foot space that I am working to "kill" the lawn and it won't be ready until the fall.  I have never done any type of gardening before, so this is going to be an exciting new experience for me.  I also want to try a few containers and maybe have a rock garden (my area has a LOT of rocks).
    • Sandy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      It has taken me several years to do this. My yard is shady for the most part. Every once in a while a big tree falls or has to be removed (always for a good reason). Then the area changes. A few years a go I began to concentrate on growing native plants. So I have several throughout my yard. I am slowly removing the non native and invasive plants. That has been a challenge. Rewarding, as I have "rescued" a few natives.
    • Donna
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Well, it was surprising to see the importance of ecoregions. I thought hardiness was the most important factor in selecting plants. Now I know in Ellensburg WA we live in hardiness 6B and Ecosystem 10E in the Columbia Plateau. I didn't know the Washington firefighting helicopters are based in Ellensburg. So interesting!   My efforts this year are in planting natives in front of the house. Last year I focused on a few wildflowers and several have survived - the prairie smoke and lupine in particular.  Our home is only a few years old and my efforts have been to get after the invasives once the soil was disrupted. Now it's time to add some beauty and larger shrubs. I am thinking about purchasing three oak trees to plant in the fall for the future we probably won't see but the birds will love.
    • Beth
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      One of the unexpected benefits of planting native species is that they thrive on neglect. With the tough drought summers that we've been having in the Midwest recently, the native plants are doing much better than the introduced ornamental plants in the yard. I'm no gardener, but the sad forgotten swamp milkweed that we planted in September of last year grew five feet tall this year, and I basically didn't water it at all. Meanwhile, the astillby wilted as soon as the sun came out. Native plants are great for lazy/neglectful gardeners as well as being good for the environment and birds and such.
    • Robin
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Last spring I tried sprouting some sunflowers from the seeds in our bird food.  Though they sprouted fine my set up wasn't very good and I lost them.  I decided to sow some seeds directly in a flower bed on the side of the house and though a few sprouted, but they didn't grow very much.  What was super interesting is that two random sunflowers popped up in the veggie garden, most likely from all the seeds the chickadees cached in the area.  I let them be and hoped they would blossom and seed in time before winter, but the growing season wasn't quite long enough.  I would have loved for our chickadees to get to eat directly from a flower they had planted themselves, these little guys successfully bred in our nest box so they are extra special to us:)  I'll try again next spring with indoor germinating so they have a better chance:)
      • Donna
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        What a wonderful sweet story! Thank you for sharing!
      • Mary Lou
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        I have a small condo fenced patio in PA. Last year I had an over abundance of milkweed that took over to I need to be more selective this year. I also have had sunflowers grow in the cracks of my patio concrete. The birds have loved that and it especially attracts the goldfinches. We shall see what happens this year as I focus on natives!
      • Penelope
        Participant
        Chirps: 38
        Love this! Chickadees are my favorite bird, by the way. 😊
    • 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.