Developing "naturalized" areas for wildlife

Desiree Posts: 255 ✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in Garden Design

Twenty years ago, when I first bought my "little acre" in Ohio, I started to utilize native plants and trees. My property is former agriculture land so it was heavily depleted clay soil. There were about three/four trees planted and only one lonely pine of that time survived. However, of all the plants and trees I have planted, (I have created my mini-swamp forest refuge) I have only lost two cottonwoods to disease. I have tried to create areas or zones for wildlife and people life (sometimes they crossover).

Does anyone else do this?


  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,820 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The property we bought is mostly undeveloped desert and I intend to keep it that way even if it means I'll never be able to do large scale gardening.

  • seeker.nancy - Central Texas
    seeker.nancy - Central Texas Posts: 795 ✭✭✭✭

    I'm doing that with the back part of my acre (not sure the neighbors are thrilled, lol.) I do need to mow some additional area by the septic discharge (it's an aeration system, water is supposed to be clean when it comes out, but not gardening there lol!). The back area holds water after rains very well and I love hearing the frogs but then it usually gets super dry over the summer and fall. I want to put in some trees, there are none. I also have volunteer pecans I can transplant and I'm going to try sprouting some peach and plum seeds. These are for my food forest, not the wild area lol. There are already some lovely native clumping grasses and I'm not sure what else. I need to walk it once it's dry enough again. I also want to scatter wildflower seeds and such for the mini habitat. Some people see it as an eyesore, I see it as a whole universe to discover!

  • Desiree
    Desiree Posts: 255 ✭✭✭

    I am finally in a "dry" moment and plan a walk-about to see what has come up. I know I spotted some cleavers and violets starting so I want to see their progress. I love spring!!!!

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2021

    I have 17 acres here and its very diverse.

    Being by water and having a small spot of swamp or meadow (I have to check by definition what it truly is) I want to add more native plants, shrubs and tree but still keep it wild in many areas.

    By the house I want to create a business and learning center and have some areas open for people to learn and enjoy.

    But what I call the heart of the land I want it to stay as natural as possible but help replenish what has been affected from farming and modern technology (road, air and noise pollution)

    There is an old indian trail, marked many years ago by bending down small tree limbs. The trees are old enough now they are dying down but what ever changes happen in the land the trail does not fill in. Its my spring and fall walking area

    This year I am fixing erosion issues and adding new plants, shrubs and trees. I also have the barn area to clean up. I think I'll throw a work bee/[party to help with that massive project

    I also have depleted clay soil@Desiree Its great once you work with it but wow, what a challenge

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    Yep, more depleted clay here! My place is former farm land, and most of it is on just enough of a slope that the previous owner lost almost all the topsoil through bad farming methods. It is a big challenge trying to grow anything, but Mother Nature can certainly work wonders. There had been no active farming here for a number of years by the time I bought it, and already the woods were coming back. I've pretty much let that process continue in the 30 years I've been here, figuring that was probably the best thing I could do for the soil, and today the place is mostly woods.

    I have tried to fight a couple of invasive species that crowd out the natives and offer nothing for wildlife, and I have also tried to reintroduce native species that should be here but weren't when I moved in. The Missouri Department of Conservation is a big help in that respect, both as a source of information and because they sell bundles of native plants at a small fraction of the cost you'd pay a nursery. Don't know if the conservation departments in other states do that, but here at least it is a great asset when you are trying to restore the native ecology.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MaryRowe I get the reasonable conservation trees too.

    And yourn place sounds like mine. I have ther hills too but at least top soild did not wash away. It was just over used.

    i also have a creekbed I have to keep an eye out for erosion so those conservation shrubs and trees will help there.

    My problem by the creek is poison ivy, but the goats are clearing that up and poison ivy is a lack of nitrogen in the soil so I went crazy and planted beans like crazy by the creek. The rabbits and deer had a picnic all summer and fall. We'll see how much it helped the soil this spring!~

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 952 ✭✭✭✭✭

    We always had a couple of wildlife areas on our 40-acre farm in Michigan back in the 70s. We loved to go for walks to see the pheasants and deer. We found all sorts of beautiful plants like wintergreen and trillium.

  • Desiree
    Desiree Posts: 255 ✭✭✭

    @Denise Grant I did not know that about poison ivy so thank you for that tip. I am curious to know what your creek area looks like this spring. I will do a bit of research on that too. I don't have a huge issue but enough pop-up spots that may need to be addressed for overall soil health for the plants growing where it is. I know the birds play a big role in my issue but if I can get rid of it they can go some where else to get it and re-seed there!

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2021

    @Desiree Northern flickers, Bobwhite quail, Eastern phoebes, Cedar waxwings, Woodpeckers, Tufted titmouses, American robins, are often the birds that eat poison ivy seeds or use it for cover.

    White-tailed deer, raccoons, and black bear browse on this plant too. They will eat the leaves, fruit, and even the stems

    There are native shrubs that all these birds and animals will eat so try to replace the ivy with them

    The ivy has really grown on the southern side of the creek. I plan to run pigs and goats through there to root everything out, chickens next. Then I will plan a ton of beans to add nitrogen to the soil. There purpose is only to add soil, mulch and feed a few animals.

    They used top have fall poison ivy pulling parties to keep it under control. Mowing will also kill it in time, but mine is not in an area that I can mow easy or want to mow. So pigs and goats will do my dirty work this summer

    I'll get some photos posted later