Your Florida Backyard NSiS Home Page Your Florida Backyard Gardening Maintenance
Traditional landscape maintenance practices are not only a lot of work, but they may also create more work for you and make your yard unattractive to wildlife.
For instance, pesticides kill all bugs. Many creatures prey on bugs including other bugs, birds, lizards, and frogs. The pesticide kills all the bugs, even the ones that were helping to keep the "bad" ones in check. The larger critters will move on, looking for a food source. When the bad guys come back, your natural allies won't be around to help -- you'll either have to wait for them to catch up or apply more pesticide.
Mulching with natural materials, especially leaf litter, helps hold moisture in the soil, and provides cover for small animals and a food source for ground foraging birds and animals. As the mulch decomposes it also enriches the soil.
Avoid using insecticides and pesticides as they will kill helpful critters, those that provide food for wildlife, and perhaps poison animals either directly or indirectly. Often, if given a chance, nature will strike a balance: the bad bugs will attract other critters that keep them in check. Other options are practicing companion planting, using physical barriers, hand-picking, and using insecticidal soap. BT, Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterial insecticide, will kill butterfly larvae.
Removing spent flowers removes a source of seeds for birds and other wildlife.
If possible, don't prune when birds and animals are nesting. Also keep in mind that birds prefer unpruned plants and trees. Prune just enough to prevent overcrowding and avoid removing flower and fruit buds.
Dead Trees
If you can, don't remove dead trees. They provide homes for cavity nesters.
Clippings, branches, logs
Consider putting logs, small piles of branches, brush piles, and clipping piles in out of the way areas of the garden. They will decompose slowly, providing havens for reptiles and amphibians in the meantime.
Consider allowing part of your yard to become a meadow of wildflowers. You can also reduce areas that require mowing by planting ground covers.
Weeds are just unwanted plants. It may be that the weed you're fighting is actually beneficial to wildlife. Pokeweed has been popping up in my yard for years. Now that I know that many birds eat the berries, I let it grow. (Don't keep pokeweed around if kids have access to it -- it's highly toxic.) Woodbine and passion vines also just pop up and are heartily welcomed. (Non-native invasives are truly weeds and need to be pulled up.)

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