Wildlife Habitat Gardens
What are wildlife habitat gardens?
A wildlife habitat garden is a place where organisms have access to the things they need most: 1) food, 2) water, 3) cover, 4) places to raise young.
Providing wildlife habitat on school grounds gives school children the opportunity to observe the natural world and participate in citizen science efforts. Research shows that nature play and citizen science projects have positive impacts on students’ behavior and academic outcomes.
Benefits for students include:
- Increased student motivation and performance
- Real-world location to learn about science concepts
- Increased awareness of the natural world and their role as nature’s stewards
- Connection with their local community and wildlife
- Experience with research (observation and data collection) and land maintenance skills
Habitats attract wildlife of all shapes and sizes from bacteria and butterflies to snakes and deer. A well-designed wildlife habitat should provide a variety of different sources to meet wildlife's basic needs.
So how do you acquire the four key components of a wildlife habitat? See examples below:
- Food: different color flowers with nectar, nuts and seeds, grasses, insects, etc.
- Water: Dew on leaves, bird baths, ponds, streams, irrigation, etc.
- Cover: Bird houses, trees, shrubs, tall grasses, brush piles, rocks and rock piles, bark for camouflage, etc.
- Places to raise young: trees, caterpillar host plants, grasses, water sources, etc.
Once you have provided the four key components of a wildlife habitat on your school grounds, you are eligible to certify as a National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitat! Learn more here.
Special Note: Consider creating a native wildlife habitat garden – that is, only including species that are found in the natural environment where you live. Great resources for native gardening in Central Texas include the City of Austin’s Grow Green Guide and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s Native Plants Database.