Flora and fauna have always been meant to be together, through the countless eons that both have existed. It’s no surprise that now, in the 21st Century, there are still animals that prove to be beneficial to plantlife, including your garden. While it’s true that there are plenty of animals that can be a detriment to the development of your perennial vegetable patch, it’s easy to counter this with the right animal friends on your side.
For instance, you can count on certain insects to hunt down pests, while larger animals can take care of larger threats. You also cannot forget about the aerating power that certain critters have. Plus, the pollinating abilities of certain insects and birds can really make all the difference in making any garden look luscious and beautiful.
There’s a lot of good that animals can do, so it’s a good idea to keep them close by. This way, you can ensure that your garden is getting the maximum benefit from all these fantastic creatures. Let’s take a look at eleven of the most beneficial animals that can help any garden in various ways.
As the quintessential garden critter, worms may make you squeamish to look at them, but they do a world of good for pretty much any plant they can work their magic on. There are two different kinds of worms that do their jobs in gardens: composting worms and earthmoving worms.
Composting worms process organic material in the soil and turn it into nutrients for the plant to enjoy. This means that they eat the organic matter in the compost; they turn this into excrement, which is sometimes called “black gold”. The resulting worm poop is so nutritionally dense, that it gives your plants the boost they need to flourish.
Earthmoving worms improve the soil by aerating it, creating a complex of tunnels that allow air and water to flow through the soil more easily. This helps the plant receive the nutrients they need much more efficiently than if the worms were not present.
To attract worms to any garden, it’s a good idea to begin a compost pile. This will naturally help worms arrive where they’re supposed to. Composting your plants on a regular basis can also help the worm population thrive. Leaving roots in the earth after you are done with the plant will also help earthworms process the excess.
Butterflies are absolutely gorgeous creatures that are more than just great to look at; they play a critical role in gardening. They serve as one of the most efficient pollinators, helping your flowering plants to reproduce. This is not only great for gardens but is also great for the environment in general.
This strengthens ecosystems and maintains the animals who need these plants to survive. They will help any garden thrive to its best potential. By gardening for butterflies, you can reduce the amount of pesticide that you use as well. It brings important creatures to make a home in your garden, such as dragonflies, spiders, and ladybugs.
Butterflies are sadly lost to habitat loss from deforestation, overuse of pesticides, and climate change. You can attract butterflies by planting native plants and other cultivated plants. You may need to do your research to see what kind of plants your butterflies will lay their eggs on, as certain species need certain plants to survive. The most common example is perhaps the monarch butterfly, whose larvae survive only on milkweed. If you want to see more adult butterflies around, you should plant nectar plants such as zinnias, thistles, and verbena.
Birds are very special parts of a garden’s ecosystem. They do more than add beauty and music to your splendid vistas. Birds can play vital roles in helping your garden prosper. For one, they are efficient pollinators, helping your plants produce fruit and seeds. Hummingbirds in particular are great at this.
Serving as important members of the food chain, birds also act as a natural pest removal service. They eat various insects that can be detrimental to gardening, such as mosquitoes and aphids. They do a great job of keeping any garden clear of pests so you have less to worry about. It’s also worth mentioning that, while grisly, birds of prey such as owls can also take care of rodents and other similar, larger pests.
You can attract birds by providing them with a place to eat, drink, and stay safe. You can set up a birdbath as a feature; these are usually quite beautiful on their own, so the fact that they attract birds is definitely an added bonus! You can also set out a bird feeder to encourage birds to come and eat, and hang out nearby. Trees and bushes help serve as a good place for shelter for birds, so take care to plant a lot of them!
They may be an unlikely part of this list, but lizards do a world of good for gardens everywhere. It may be a good idea to attract them to yours so that you can reap the benefits! Lizards are great at eating pests in the garden, such as slugs and various insects. This can really help bring down the population of pesky critters that are disturbing the grandeur of your garden.
Moreover, lizards also serve as a natural barometer, showing you that there are few pollutants and heavy metals anywhere near your garden. Lizards are very sensitive to these things, so seeing a few of them means that your garden is producing food that is safe to eat. Creating a safe place for lizards can take a little bit of work.
You can start by avoiding using pesticides; as we previously mentioned, lizards are very sensitive to these kinds of pollutants. Instead, you can opt to use other methods, such as companion planting and using other natural predators. Give your lizard a lot of good places to hide, such as brush, rock, or brick piles. Mulching the grass can help create moisture that lizards thrive on, given their dry skin. Be sure to provide them with a source of water so that they can drink whenever they need.
Ants are often taken as a nuisance instead of being beneficial; this is far from true! Ants are actually able to till the soil around as effectively as earthworms. This aeration allows your plants to receive more air and water when they need it. They also act as natural composters, turning dead insects into fertilizer to keep your plants thriving. Ants also help to disperse seeds, making them an important part of the survival of certain plants. This way, they contribute greatly to the environment and gardens around the world.
Furthermore, ants guarding certain plants can act as a natural pesticide, allowing fruit yield to improve. Many different species of ants are also predators and thus keep unwanted insects away. Conversely, ants are low on the food chain and serve as food for insects, birds, and mammals. Ants also eat Aphids, which are notorious garden killers.
While you may find ants regardless of whether you want them or not, you’ll be happy to know that these useful creatures are attracted to flowers because of their nectar. Planting an abundance of flowers will attract ants for certain. Seeing ants in your garden can also be an indicator of aphids that attack plants and feast on their sap. Ants sometimes use these insects as something of a cow in their colonies, sheltering the aphids in exchange for the nectar they have consumed.
Mosquitoes are a plague upon humanity. They reduce the amount of time that we can spend outdoors, tending to our gardens. They spread a number of dangerous diseases like dengue fever, zika virus, and malaria. Having pesky mosquitoes in the garden is downright irritating and can really suck (pun intended) the fun out of gardening.
Enter bats. Bats are incredibly useful at removing mosquitoes from gardens; just one bat can eat as many as 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour! They do the same for flies, too. Insect-eating bats can also target moths, whose larvae can easily destroy a number of crops. Beyond this, fruit eating bats are also amazing pollinators.
Be sure to provide a good environment for your bats to live. Buying a bat house and installing it some 15 to 20 feet up a tree or pole is a great solution. This is the easiest way to attract them. Caring for bats also helps increase their numbers, since many bat populations have been on the decline in recent years. This way, you aren’t just ridding your garden of annoying mosquitoes and flies, but you are also helping the environment overall. Do your part and save the bats, because they work hard to save us!
It’s true that certain beetles are pests to the garden. Japanese beetles can certainly be a nuisance. However, most beetles are actually very useful to any garden. They play a few different roles in making the garden look its best. For one, they serve as pollinators, ensuring the survival of flowering plants. They also help to control the pest population by feeding on unwanted visitors to your garden. They also act as natural composters, turning decaying plant and animal matter into fertilizer for plants. Dung beetles in particular feed on animal feces and can really help gardens to prosper.
Ladybugs deserve a special mention, being the most beneficial beetle to gardens across the world. Certain ladybugs are great pollinators, but they’re more known for their pest-repelling abilities. These beetles eat aphids, mites, and other insects that can be destructive to gardens. They can eat as many as 5,000 aphids in their lifetime, so it’s always a good idea to keep these bugs around!
You can attract beetles to a garden in a number of different ways. You can leave mulch covering and leaf piles on the ground, as this attracts a number of pests, and with them come beetles to kill them off! They also can thrive in compost heaps where they can breed. They will also enjoy a dead wood habitat, which you can create by placing decaying logs together.
Another fantastic insect control method is by using spiders. They may be scary to some, but others find them and the webs they spin to be charming. Either way, they’re great at reducing the number of unwanted insects in your garden. They eat mosquitoes, flies, mites, aphids, and roaches, allowing for very effective pest control. Spiders help control the natural ecosystem in any garden, keeping things in a healthy balance.
You can attract garden spiders by planting plenty of perennial bushes, as these serve as a great habitat for spiders to dwell. Other ground-dwelling spiders, such as the wolf spider, actively hunt for their prey instead of waiting for them to fall into their web.
You can promote the presence of wolf spiders by leaving mulch piles and dried leaves for them to live in, as this is a suitable place for them to hunt. There’s no need to be afraid of spider bites, as very few actually are dangerous to humans. Most of the time, you will experience some itchiness and swelling, but that’s often all there is to it. As long as you provide a good habitat for spiders, they will continue being your natural pest control.
Frogs and Toads
Frogs and toads are also a very effective means of natural pest control. These animals will eat slugs, snails, and insects. In a single summer, toads can eat around 10,000 bugs, which is much more than we can normally do without resorting to extreme measures!
While it’s true that they can eat insects that are also valuable, it’s still important to keep these animals around for all the extra good they can do. Frogs and toads can eat up to 100 insects a night, which makes them powerful allies to have!
Toads do not live in water, but frogs do. It’s a good idea to install a pond as a water feature if you want to see more frogs around. Moreover, it’s always a good idea to provide a moist place to live for toads and frogs alike; this can be something as simple as an overturned flowerpot, which provides a suitable environment for them to live in. Take care not to overuse pesticides, as frogs and toads have very sensitive skin. It’s a good indicator that you aren’t using pesticides too much if you find that your garden is a haven for frogs and toads.
Hedgehogs can be a wonderful addition to any garden. It’s not just that they’re cute, but they also provide a great way to control the slug population. They also eat insects that could potentially harm your plants, so it’s a great idea to keep them around, especially to keep edible groundcover clear.
One will need to make accommodations for hedgehogs to survive and thrive. It’s a good idea to leave certain parts of your garden running wild, as this is a good place for hedgehogs to nest. You can look into constructing a home for hedgehogs as well. Since hedgehogs do a lot of traveling, you will need to give your hedgehogs a means to get in and out of a gardening area. This can be as simple as cutting a tiny 5 x 5 in. hole in your fence or digging the same size tunnel from the outside to the inside.
Giving them a source of food and water can also really encourage hedgehogs to make a home in your garden. You can opt to give your hedgehogs canned dog food or cat food, as well as crushed-up cat and dog biscuits. Leave a shallow bowl of water for them to drink from. Be sure to cover drains and holes as hedgehogs may fall in and get stuck inside. Also, take care that you do not disturb any nesting hogs when you are mowing, or forking over a leaf pile.
Perhaps one of the most important members of the ecosystems our gardens provide is bees. They are by far one of the most effective pollinators, helping to spread a variety of plants all over. They provide food this way, by creating an opportunity for fruit, nuts, seeds, berries, and roots to be consumed. Bees are the reason why certain plants survive today, because they ensure seed setting. Bees are so important to the ecosystem; they also make a great difference in how your gardening space thrives.
Bee populations are unfortunately declining. So much of our survival depends on bees, so it’s important to create places and habitats where bees can live and repopulate. You should plant certain flowers, such as asters, poppies, and bee balm, as these provide a great place for bees to get nectar from. This helps them congregate more easily in your gardening area and promotes reproduction.
When bee populations stabilize once more, our planet will be much better off. We will continue having steady supplies of food, and the environment will be far more beautiful than when there weren’t as many bees around. This goes the same for your garden; if you want gorgeous foliage and flowers, help save the bees!
We hope that this list of 11 animals that can actually help most gardens has given you insight on fauna’s amazing power to serve flora. By utilizing each animal’s strengths, you will be able to cultivate a garden that will fill your heart with joy. You’ll be surprised at just how much a garden can improve simply by allowing these animals to do their thing.
By keeping pesky pests away, allowing the soil to be oxygenated, and letting pollinators do their job, your garden will flourish as you’ve never seen before! And that’s precisely what we at All About Gardens want for you. Do your best to care for these critters, and they will surely pay you back!