Want to give local wildlife a boost? Try planting a native garden

Birds with seeds

Most lawns and gardens tend to need regular upkeep; if we’re not watering, we’re weeding. Or seeding. Or spraying. Or mowing. But there’s an easier way that’s also far better for the environment: gardening with native plants.

Native plants provide food and shelter for birds, bees, and other wildlife that desperately need more habitat. And unlike ornamental species from distant places, plants that occur naturally in a region are uniquely adapted to the local climate. After a little initial help, they mostly take care of themselves, without pesticides, fertilizers, or irrigation. And less mowing means fewer carbon emissions.

To start your own native garden, skip the big-box stores and contact a native garden center or an agricultural or university extension office for help finding local varieties. Plant a mix of species, ideally with different bloom periods. Mow less, avoid pesticides, and let a spot or two stay ungroomed (for example, rake a pile of leaves into a corner—some bees love them). Then sit back and enjoy the fact that your yard is supporting countless local critters.

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World Wildlife magazine provides an inspiring, in-depth look at the connections between animals, people and our planet. Published quarterly by WWF, the magazine helps make you a part of our efforts to solve some of the most pressing issues facing the natural world.

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