There is an endless number of projects that you can undertake to make your yard and garden more environmentally friendly, attract wildlife, and be beautiful at the same time. Here are some links to other sites with comprehensive information on projects for your home for attracting wildlife, saving water, and gardening in Garry Oak meadows. All links open in a new tab or window.
Wise Water Use:
Reducing water use and water diversion is an important step to protecting our waterways both from depletion, and also from runoff that contains contaminants from our garden, such as fertilizers and pesticides.
Islands Trust Fund's Rain Water Harvesting Guide: While using native plants can reduce the amount of water that you use, collecting rainwater is an environmentally-friendly source for the water that you do end up using.
Lifecycles has a 2 page brochure on water conservation in your garden.
The CRD Pests & Pesticides Facts page has fact sheets for managing common garden pests without using pesticides. Their Healthy Garden Guide also has information on environmentally-friendly methods for maintaining your lawn & garden.
Bats eat bugs, and make great backyard neighbours (especially at those mosquito-laden bbqs!), but they rely on wildlife trees (dead or dying trees with cavities) for homes. Building a bat box may help these important animals find a home.
• The Naturescape BC Provincial Guide (2.5MB PDF) has house plans for a number of BC's bird species that rely on cavities, including swallows, chickadees, owls, kestrels, and more. Included in the plans are some alternate openings for swallow boxes. Unfortunately, introduced, invasive House Sparrows and Starlings destroy the smaller swallows nests, killing hatchlings and pushing out eggs. Building a good house with a proper opening is an important step to protecting native swallows from these introduced competitors.
• The Burke Mountain Naturalists have an excellent guide to building houses for common birds (1MB PDF). All the birds they have plans for are common on the islands as well.
Though not a replacement for habitat, feeding birds is entertaining and non-harmful if done right.
Oregon State University has some guidelines to help you feed birds responsibly.
The Woodworkers Workshop has links to many plans for constructing a wide variety of feeders.
Attracting butterflies means planting both food and host plants for caterpillars. HAT has a page on native plants that will attract butterflies and feed caterpillars.
There are a variety of native bees and bumblebees, the best known of which are Mason or Blue-orchid Bees. These bees are often far superior pollinators of fruit trees and flowers than honey bees. Unfortunately, like many other species that rely on dead and fallen trees for habitat, homes for many native bee species are in short supply. The good news that making a Mason bee home is reasonably simple.
Lifecycles has a comprehensive guide to creating Mason bee habitat and housing (1MB PDF).
More Native Plant Resources:
In addition to HAT's Gardening with Native Plants, there many other resources to help you with your natural garden. More experienced gardeners seeking more information about growing or propogating a specific plant may wish to check out the Garry oak Ecosystems Recovery Team's site on Native Plant Propagation Guidelines.
The Evergreen Foundation also has a cross-Canada database of Native Plants.
If you live in a current or former Garry Oak site, be sure to look at the Garry Oak Gardener's Handbook (10MB PDF), prepared by the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team.