Want Wildlife in Your Landscaping?
When establishing food plots, please take a few steps to ensure they will be as effective as possible in attracting the wildlife you desire. First, consider the kind of habitat the animals prefer. Food plots can take several forms. One example is a row of corn or other grains for raccoons and other small mammals. Some farmers even leave a row or two of grain after harvest near a fence row that they have either let grow up with wild vegetation or planted with beneficial shrubs, trees, and flowering perennials. One might also replant or restore prairie or woodland vegetation to re-establish native food sources. One could also establish a savannah-like mix of native prairie plants and widely spaced trees and shrubs. Such a mixed habitat is beautiful to game and birds.
After considering a good location for your food plot:
- Prepare the ground well.
- Kill off undesirable existing vegetation either with herbicide or repeated cultivation.
- Change the soil according to the needs of the plants you are establishing.
- Acquire the right amount of seeds or plants to fill the area.
If planting forage crops or grain for deer or other game animals, research and acquire the particular species you wish to establish or buy prepared mixes tailored to the desired game species.
To attract bees, butterflies, and songbirds, establish a prairie plot in part of a field or transform the whole field into a prairie. Prairie flower blossoms provide nectar for hummingbirds and bees. After prairie flowers and grasses go to seed, their seed heads provide food for songbirds. Research what plants one might grow or get a pre-selected seed mix. Flat daisy or sunflower-like flowers are beautiful to butterflies; trumpet-like red flowers like cardinal flowers attract hummingbirds. Make sure to include host plants like milkweed for butterfly larvae. If there is already some prairie vegetation in a field, restore its dominance by burning off the field each spring for a few years while interseeding or planting other native prairie species.
If one plants nut trees and oaks when establishing a forest plot or enriching an existing one, then squirrels and other wildlife can enjoy the nuts and acorns. Nut trees to consider include hickory, pecan, and black walnut. Ensure that you have plenty of space between the trees to establish a diverse understory with other plants attractive to wildlife. Establish some berry bushes, such as blueberry, wild huckleberry, or serviceberry. Some of these, like wild huckleberry, will require specific soil conditions, such as acidic soil. In moister and more established woods, one can plant some paw-paw tree. The paw-paw tree is a deer-resistant plant, but many creatures enjoy its fruit.
Similarly, suppose one plant's nut trees like pecan and hickory, oaks, and berry bushes in a fencerow between agricultural fields. In that case, he can provide both habitat and a corridor where animals can move from one wild area to another. He can also plant some prairie plants along the edge or in sunnier spots. Finally, one can plant a hedge with similar wildlife-friendly plants to fulfill a function similar to the fencerow.