Tips to turn your backyard into a bird hangout!

Feeling a little inspired after watching the new DOME Theater documentary, "Backyard Wilderness?" Petitti's Garden Centers have teamed up with Great Lakes Science Center to help your kids create their OWN backyard wilderness! We stopped by Petitti's to talk to one of their experts - check it out!



Going Native: More tips to create your Backyard Wilderness!

You shop local. You try to eat local. But have you ever thought about the importance of “planting local”?

Wait, aren’t all plants “local” if I plant them in my own yard? Not necessarily. So before you break out your favorite pair of polka dot puddle jumpers and dive into another spring gardening season, take a minute to think about where the foliage in your yard comes from.

Many of the most commonly purchased ornamental plants sold at retail nurseries are imported species from other countries. And while these foreign plants may look great and be perfectly adapted to survive in our area, they are technically exotic species that don’t add much value to our native environment. In order to maintain a healthy ecosystem, even one as small as your own yard or neighborhood, all of the plants, insects, birds and wildlife must work together and support one another.

Native plants such as American holly, common buttonbush, gray dogwood, pussy willow, and various species of coneflower, milkweed and aster can help attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, produce berries or fruit that feed native birds, and support insects that birds feed on as well. Native plant species also use less water and require less maintenance on average than transplanted exotic species.

Attracting birds, butterflies and insects to your yard is a great way to encourage curiosity in your kids, too. Building awareness of the natural world around them can lead to increased interest in science and conservation related fields as well.

The Audubon Society’s website is a great place to start. It offers an extremely easy to use Native Plant Database where users can enter their ZIP code and apply filters for searching out flowers, grasses, succulents, shrubs, trees, vines and evergreens. The entry for each plant contains a photo, a brief description, lists attributes such as whether it produces flowers or nuts, and gives examples of several different bird species it may attract. Soon your yard can be sheltering cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, or even a white-breasted nuthatch or downy woodpecker! Migrating monarch butterflies may stop by to visit your flowers, and ruby-throated hummingbirds might be seen hovering like tiny helicopters.

Check out the movie “Backyard Wilderness” now showing at The Cleveland Clinic DOME Theater for some extra inspiration on exploring the natural world right outside your door. And remember, Stay Curious!