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It’s easy to assume that you can’t possibly make a difference for wildlife from your small share of the planet. But every positive choice you make in your garden can actually make a huge difference for the wildlife in your area.

And when you help your neighbors make better decisions the benefit to wildlife is magnified. And so it spreads. Want to learn how to help support the natural systems in your area? You’ve come to the right place! The Gosling Wildlife Gardens at the University of Guelph Arboretum is a series of example backyards that will show you how to transform your own property into valuable wildlife habitat.

These gardens

+ will motivate you to do similar plantings in your own backyard
+ display woody plants and perennials that are attractive to wildlife
+ promote positive people-wildlife interactions
+ have many species of wildlife that you can observe
+ compliment other Arboretum interpretive programs

What is a wildlife garden anyway?
Surely any garden is a wildlife garden. It’s hard to imagine a garden that does not benefit wildlife in some way. Even a paved patio with a few potted-plants attracts bees and butterflies as well as the odd unwelcome guest such as slugs. But a wildlife garden sets out with the intention of attracting wildlife.

Why bother?

Why not? There are so many benefits to wildlife gardening. If you haven’t got time for gardening but enjoy a but of greenery and color then a wildlife garden is a practical alternative to a paved or gravel garden – and it’s much cheaper too.Don’t worry about the odd weed or two, that’s part of the package. There’s bound to be some creature that will keep them in check. Just help out every so often to stop things getting out of hand. No more worrying about moss in your lawn, just give it a bit of a trim when it gets to knee height!You’ll be helping the local wildlife immeasurably.

Have you noticed how few butterflies there are around these days compared with ten or twenty years ago? It’s partly down to the lack of food plants for their larvae (caterpillars to you and me). Many of the familiar garden species feed on common stinging nettles. Just allow a small clump to grow in a corner of your garden and you’ll be rewarded with colorful butterflies in the summer. Young birds (even seed eaters) and bats rely on a constant supply of insects. You don’t get them in a sterile yard or a garden sprayed with insecticides. So keeping a well-maintained garden doesn’t just benefit you by looking good, but it also helps to attract wildlife into it.

What about a pond?

Great idea! You’ll greatly increase the diversity of wildlife using your garden if you make even a small wildlife pond. Do think about safety though if you have small children. A fence and gate will not stop the wildlife but it will prevent a potential tragedy.While you’re at it, why not include a bog garden too.

Will I need any extra tools?

Probably not. You might even be able to sell some! If you want to go completely green, then a spade, fork and grass-hook should be all you really need. But if you’re garden is big or you are short on time then a brushcutter is a good investment. A brushcutter is like a strimmer but with a metal blade instead of a nylon cord capable of cutting quite think plants and weeds such as brambles and small tree sapplings. If you are buying new and your garden is quite large, then a petrol engine modular system is a good investment.