• Stacey
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I have realized that I actually have a lot more in my yard for birds than I thought. Taking a bit of an inventory of my yard and how it fits into each category has been really helpful.
    • Jenifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      The yard I live in has some pluses and some minuses in terms of trees, shrubs and plants. My yard has one large maple and several pines that border my small property on either side. I don’t have a lot of bushes for birds to hide in and build their nests in. One real minus is that the back yard border is lined with a bunch of very old invasive burning bush plants that my neighbor in back loves because it forms a really private barrier.  I would like to take these bushes out of the back but right now, I think I need a bulldozer to pull out the roots. It will be an enormous costly job that right now I don’t have the $ to do. But I will save up for this job and also would like to plan out what I would replace these plants with. There is not much privacy in my yard, and I will have even less when I take out these plants. I purchased two elderberry plants and would like to put them somewhere in the back. They are waiting for my to decide where I can put them; they are in enormous pots at this point. I have some homework here and any suggestions about replacement plants would be great - preferably bushes or small flowering native trees that can help replace this barrier. I have had a brush pile and a pile of logs which were originally going to be used in a fireplace, but the wood is too old and rotted. However, it has become a place where a skunk has set up shop and where a red squirrel lives and gathers pine cones from the trees. I also have some raspberry bushes one one side of my yard and planted a serviceberry there last year - what a beautiful shrub. I also planted a small peach tree in the corner of my lot near my split rail fence. I put in some plants along the fence including lobelia and liatris.  I put two winterberry plants (tiny) in my yard to try and get more berries for the birds. My goal is to replace the non natives in my yard with natives. I have a bird bath but realize I have been keeping it out in the open so I will move that to a shaded area under some trees. Overall, there is lack of privacy in my yard and I would like to create a private oasis - prettier and better planned. I have a small vegetable garden and have put most of my vegetables in, but still have some left to plant.  I try to mow sparingly and leave some grassy areas longer. I only rake leaves in some parts of my yard so that it looks ok to the neighbors who have very few plants and trees. One neighbor has asked us to take down a tree for no reason because they think it is too close to their house. We have trimmed the tree but we don’t believe in taking down trees for very little reason. Unfortunately, that is not the thinking of my neighbors. They frown on anything that looks “weedy” as well.
      • Karen
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        I am in suburbia, zone 6A, NE Ohio. I finally realized late last year that my lot needs native shrubs. Out with the forsythia, in with salix discolor, arrowwood viburnum, American fringe tree, flowering raspberry (bare root), rosa carolina, American wild plum (bare root). The viburnums and fringe tree were from a wholesale nursery and four footers. Mostly I plant bare root or plugs otherwise. Much easier on the pocketbook, easier to plant, less shock to transplant. I am considering bayberry shrubs for next year. I have a couple of mature oak trees, 70 plus footers and I am surrounded by a small grove of oak, beech, chokecherry, sugar maple, so that helps tremendously for nature. Also, this is an older city neighborhood, with more enough vinca, wintergreen, ivy, burning bush, japanese honeysuckles to keep anyone too busy to do much weeding!    My goal is to space and plant the shrubs so they do not require pruning to keep them in bounds. Time will tell! I have left the leaf litter in my yard for the past three years....I just love watching the birds in the litter, plus all of the life beneath it! It is a big change from individual plants surrounded by mulch. I am hoping, as my design skills improve, that passersby and neighbors will enjoy the more abundant life and change their yards a bit at a time, too!
      • Stacey
        Participant
        Chirps: 5

        @Karen Sounds like a great yard-your zone is similar-I am 6A but in Ontario...wonder if it is the same zone chart? I have a pollinator patch between my neighbours drive and mine-it is adjacent to the sidewalk and it is fun to watch people walk by and notice the garden-stopping to look at things in there...I have been replacing non natives with native species and have introduced goldenrod and asters in a "landscape designed" way...this seems to show that you can use natives and have the garden "look nice" too...I am waiting for the goldenrod crab spiders to show up this season!

      • Jenifer
        Participant
        Chirps: 18

        @Karen HI Karen - I am so hoping the same - that my neighbors will change their view on how to keep their yards. So far, that has not been the case. One of my neighbors has not been around much and his back yard was turning into a beautiful meadow (he had chopped down all of his trees). I asked the neighbor further down the road to not mow  his years (he does it because he can I guess) a small patch of it because the blue birds were accessing some bugs in that area. But he went ahead and mowed everything down in 5 minutes!!! So much for neighbors!

      • I live in northern Indiana and learned about things like amur honeysuckle and burning bush only a few years ago. I had two burning bushes that were only about six feet tall and I got rid of them three  years ago.  I dug around them and used a hatchet to chop out the roots a section at a time.  Then I just kept digging and prying. It took a few hours for each one. I've since put in Ninebarks which are doing great.  One got its first flowers this spring. I put in an elderberry bush - Black Lace - before I knew the difference between native and non-native plants. I don't have any other elderberry (two others, not black lace, didn't make it through the first winter) and don't think there are any in the area so I do not expect it to fruit.  What I do want to find out is whether  I need to pull it up or not.  From what I have seen in google searches thus far, it's not considered invasive at the moment.  But also what I've seen tells me that if I get a native elderberry, it might pollinate the Black Lace.
    • KERRIE
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      What do we have to offer? Oak trees, tree litter and one native plum [prunus] tree presently covered in aphids. I hate that tree [its messy, is spread everywhere by birds, rats and squirrels sprouting willy nilly, as well as its covered in thorns] but the bees and birds do seem to love it - so far it stays. Ah yes, we also have two elderberry shrubs. Both of which had gotten quite scraggly and were chopped back severely last year. This year they have sprung back with new vigor offering shade to our llamas and hopefully lots of berries later in the season. Other than that there is very little on our property but "weeds and ivy" - which I must admit are a great home to spiders and lizards until May when we have to whack it into the ground. We live in what is considered and is now being called a "Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone" or VHFHSZ. We live in the canyon consumed by the 1991 Oakland [CA] Hills Fire. Every year we are subject [necessarily for the community's safety] a fire inspection to make sure that we are fire safe [or safe-ish]. We are in drought conditions and things grow on the property. If the fire marshal had their druthers, our lot would be a bare patch of earth. Nothing there = nothing to burn. The trees on our lot are all re-sprouts from old majestic Live Oak that covered the hillside prior to the fire. Several of the returning oaks have grown quite large and haven't had much pruning. Very little has been done in regards to landscaping around the house prior to this year. The yard would be weed whacked to the ground and leaves racked and that was about it. Our lot is a hillside, the ground being one hard glob of clay soil more akin to cement in the summer than dirt to be tilled lazily on a summers afternoon of gardening. This year I've decided to act upon my daydreams of creating a landscape to balance safety, and a healthy ecosystem that sustains a natural habitat. So far I've dug a 2-1/2' x 9' plot that looks more like a grave than a garden plot but now holds the sprouts of what will be an asparagus garden. The deer love it. That's one for nature! My second act is natural erosion control with logs and branches. Not much appreciated by the fire inspectors but we are working together on that. Happy lizards! This class is my third act towards bringing all my hopes and ideas into one clarified plan and creating a happy place for nature to exist. Wish me luck!
    • Martin
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      In my yard, I have a small pond feature (~50gal) which contains three goldfish and a couple species of plants.  I also run a filter/pump combo to  assist in keeping the water moving, clean and aerated.  Also in my yard, I have several raised beds where I plant a mix of annuals, biennials and perennials all with the intent of attracting primarily birds.  I feed year round with seed (sunflower {mostly Black-oil}, millets and Safflower), nuts (peanuts out of the shell) and during the warmer months of spring/summer/fall, I offer sugar water for the Ruby-throats and Baltimore Oriole.  A few years ago, I planted a Pin (or Fire) Cherry - Prunus pensylvanica in my yard to attract insects and of course, birds.
    • This year I've learned that I have quite a bit beyond my bird feeders.  I have trees with nuts - oaks, hemlocks, and beech and trees with fruit - sassafras and serviceberry. I have good shelter with three large hemlocks.  I never paid much attention to them before this spring when I started doing a weekly survey using Nature's Notebook. I started working in native plants last year and also began leaving the leaf litter on the ground. This year I've seen lots of ground foragers in the leaves and under bushes - like sparrows and thrushes. I had a small wood pile this winter for the first time and noticed a Carolina Wren around it almost daily.  I'm retired now and obviously will have to pass this house on to someone else down the road. I want to make sure I have plenty of native plantings around the yard so that even if the next owner is not into birds/wildlife the yard will still be a suitable habitat for them.
      • Jenifer
        Participant
        Chirps: 18
        Wow Jim - Sounds like you have been doing a lot of improve your place. What is Nature’s Notebook? I see you have taken a lot of Cornell courses - was it something that was covered in one of them?