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Native fish, wildlife and their habitat
Naturescaping: How To...
Bridge Creek Wildlife Area
Photo by Brome McCreary, USGS

Attract Wildlife

Invite birds, insects and small mammals into your landscape.

Attract migratory birds

  • Make windows less reflective
  • Defend birds from cats and dogs
  • Plant a variety of trees, shrubs, hedges and vines for plant-nesting birds

Attract hummingbirds

  • Provide an insecticide-free habitat
  • Plant flowering shrubs, vines and herbaceous plants
  • Keep hummingbird feeders clean, and change the food frequently

Attract butterflies

  • Choose sunny areas for butterfly gardens
  • Plant flowers to provide nectar
  • Keep some "weedy" plants to encourage caterpillar larvae

Attract moths

  • Plant a variety of fragrant white, yellow or lavender plants
  • Bunch flowers close together to minimize travel distances
  • Provide rock-basking areas

Attract soil organisms

  • Allow leaf litter to accumulate beneath shrubs
  • Compost yard debris and kitchen scraps
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides, fertilizers and moss-killing chemicals

Attract predator insects

  • Plant mixed pollen and nectar flowers with umbrella-shaped heads
  • Create a pond to encourage dragonflies
  • Make a compost pile

Attract mammals

  • Plant extra vegetation, such as red alder, beside rivers as food for beavers
  • Place a rock pile in a sunny spot to encourage chipmunks
  • Make a bat house

Create Habitat

To Naturescape, knowing the basic habitat needs of wildlife is necessary. Habitat is both the landscape and the biological conditions that affect an animal within a geographic range. Space, food, cover and water are essential to effective habitat creation.


  • All animals need space - territory for finding food, courting, and raising young.
  • Space provides a buffer from human activities, which is especially important during nesting season.


  • Native vegetation provides food for 10 to 15 times more wildlife than non-native plants.
  • Native plants are adapted to local soil and climate conditions and provide the food animals need.


  • Water will attract more wildlife to a yard than bird feeders or other specialized supplemental foods.
  • Water is essential for wildlife survival. Animals use it for use it for drinking, bathing and foraging.


  • Cover provides a place to raise young, protection from predators and shelter from weather.
  • Cover exists in many forms - from a leaf pile to a bat house.


  • Plant a variety of vegetation to provide many different food sources.
  • Create areas with minimal human traffic to encourage wildlife use.
  • Change birdbath water on a weekly basis to avoid harboring mosquito larvae.
  • Leave downed woody material (such as logs, branches and bark) to provide cover from animals and insects.

Design a Plan

A Naturescaped yard can be created in five steps.

ODFW Employee
ODFW Employee AnneMary Myers on a survey.

Step 1: Discover

Discover existing conditions through a mapping and inventory process. Make a scaled map of the area to be Naturescaped. Add in structures and natural circumstances, such as light, drainage and soil. Mark existing vegetation, possible wildlife areas, human uses and viewing spots.

Step 2: Evaluate

Evaluate the possibilities of the area to be Naturescaped. Imagine alternatives to a lawn, think of which shrubs might live well under trees and find neglected corners to transform into a butterfly garden or sunny rock pile.

Step 3: Sketch

Sketch a general diagram to loosely represent where Naturescaping features will fit in the yard. A persistent low spot might be the perfect place for a miniature marsh. A living fence made of shrubs - a hedgerow - could offer nesting cover for birds and might add privacy as well.

Step 4: Strategize

Strategize on how to proceed. Time, energy and money can be important considerations. Avoid the mistake of moving too fast or changing things on a scale that is too large.

Step 5: Implement

Implementation often requires incremental steps over many years. How to implement a Naturescaped yard varies according to the area to be landscaped and individual resources.


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