As hedge witches, we have an obligation to ourselves, Mother Earth, plants, and wildlife to protect the environment and increase their habitat so they can thrive. It is our duty to make informed decisions when tending the land we call home (no matter how big or small), and to know and understand our impact.
We know that chemicals used on the land has far-reaching and long-lasting effects, from harming pollinators to contaminating our water supply.
Creating Wildlife Habitat
1. Observe the natural cycles. Each garden has different weather patterns, climate, pests, and beneficial species. And most of the time, we don’t have to interfere in the natural processes. Mother Earth has taken care of everything for thousands of years. Trust that she has the solution you seek. For instance, we noticed that Starlings were taking over our bird feeders. Yes, they are an invasive species in most areas of the U.S. We did nothing but observe. In only one week, we found a Merlin hunting our feeders for Starlings. Problem solved.
2. Start small. Work in a small area with a small, manageable project. Remove some lawn and put in native species that require very little water or maintenance.
3. Learn about native plants. What types of plants naturally grow in your area? Go on wild walks or join work parties doing habitat restoration. Visit your local nursery and discuss native plants with the experts.
4. Create a plan. Decide which plants would benefit your local wildlife and make a plan. Be sure to include the mature size of each plant. Also consider all wildlife needs: food, water, shelter, and a place to raise young. Food means: pollen, nectar, berries, seeds, stems, leaves, insects, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. You don't have to provide it all but start where you can.
5. Layer & Stack plants. Diversify the habitat area with a wide variety of plants, including canopy trees, smaller trees and large shrubs, smaller shrubs, herbaceous plants, ground cover, root plants, climbers, water plants, and mycelium.
6. Buy local plants. A good source of local native plants are Master Gardener sales and local nurseries. Big box stores may have a lot of plants, but not necessarily ones that will thrive or be of benefit to the wildlife.
7. Tend the new habitat. Regularly water your new plants until they get established (about 2 summers). Once established, local native plants shouldn't need additional watering. A shovelful of compost each spring and fall, will help keep the soil healthy. Keep the area mulched if you have a problem with your soil drying out too quickly. Keep weeding and observing. Add some magic: gemstones, reiki, or charms.
Welcome Biodiversity Into Your Life
One of the joys of making your garden more wildlife-friendly is seeing it come alive with biodiversity. Together we can all give wildlife a safe home—one garden at a time. Mother Earth will thank you and so will your wildlife brothers and sisters.
Learn more about biodiversity and principles of ecology in Introduction to Hedgewitch Permaculture.