Using Your Landscaping to Support Wildlife During Winter

Most who take a vested interest in the landscaping of their lawns recognize the value of doing so. They carefully weigh the options for species of trees (or shrubs) to plant, the ideal location for planting them, and the efforts necessary to maintain them. With careful planning and maintenance, the end result is usually aesthetically appealing. With some extra effort, however, landscaping trees can serve a dual purpose. Landscaping can be environmentally friendly by supporting wildlife throughout the harsh winter months.

Because food for wildlife is scarcer during winter, consider adding trees or shrubs that bear food year-round. Consider crabapple or holly, which continue to fruit during the winter. These two trees provide food for wildlife during a time when many other tree species have stopped producing. Bear in mind that it isn’t just birds that are supported by winter-thriving landscaping. Other wildlife also benefit. Deer thrive on the fruit of American holly or hawthorn, or the nuts from oaks, hickories or beech. Wild turkey feed on the fruit of the highbush cranberry. Like deer, squirrels, too, can weather the winter months by feeding from nut-producing species.

Consider using your landscaping trees to support wildlife by buying or building a feeder and hanging it on the trees. Add wild bird seed to help them locate some easily attainable sustenance. Do online or library research, or consult a wildlife agency, in order to learn about the various seeds birds will eat, as well as recipes to make a homemade suet ball. To help feed any squirrels, or to keep them out of your bird feeder, consider making a feeder for them. It can be easily attached to a fence or, if you don’t have a fence, attached to a free-standing post. You can purchase squirrel feed at local department or pet stores or make your own homemade blend. Be sure to include dried corn, sunflower seeds, and some shelled peanuts.

Your landscaping can also support wildlife by providing them with shelter. Consider landscaping trees with cavities as an eco-friendly tree. The cavity provides a natural inlet of protection for trees or squirrels. Evergreen trees whose branches are low to the ground offer additional protection from winter’s bitter cold and winds. In fact, trees or shrubs of any species with dense branching offers this same protection to a multitude of wildlife. If, at any point, branches hang on the ground or too low for your personal liking, contact an Austin tree trimming specialist to assist you in making the tree more sightly. Also, if they exist, areas of your landscaping that may seem less than ideal can be beneficial to wildlife. Rock or brush piles which haven’t yet been attended to can be disguised by planting a shrub in front of it. Doing so hides the eyesore factor while providing shelter for wildlife to ride out the winter. A fallen tree offers the same winter protection. However, should you wish to remove a fallen tree when warmer weather returns, an Austin tree removal specialist can assist you.

If these natural sources of shelter are unavailable through your landscaping trees, consider purchasing or building a birdhouse to hang from your trees, add to a fencepost, or place as free-standing on your lawn.

These are a just a few ideas to consider to help maintain a beautiful landscape while supporting wildlife during a particularly critical time in their survival. For additional ideas about using your landscape to support wildlife, consult an arborist or local wildlife societies.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

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