Posts Tagged attracting animals

Calling all Bees, Butterflies, and Lady Bugs

If you live in a place like Pismo or Malibu beach, you’re pretty likely to see butterflies throughout the year.  But what about more inland cities like Thousand Oaks, Woodland Hills or Simi Valley?  How do residents get a chance to enjoy gorgeous and beneficial winged insects?  Here are some ideas:Honey Bee Polinating Sage Blossom

Get rid of dead or dying plants

Beneficial insects are attracted to bright, healthy plants that will produce plenty of pollen or nectar, or which haven’t been damaged too thoroughly by harmful insects like aphids.  Make sure to prune back dead foliage, remove dead plants, and find out if your plants that seem to be dying can be saved or if they should be removed.

Plant bright flowers with nectar or pollen in them

Butterflies and bees are attracted to areas where they can feed themselves and their fellows.  Try planting vibrant flowers like: marigold, lavender, blood flower, brown-eyed Susan, echinacea, salvia, yarrow, penstemon, salpiglossis, dahlia, scabiosa, gallardia, zinnia,  aster, butterfly bush, butterfly weed, lantana, bee balm, borage, sunflower, alyssum, lion’s tail, coneflower, and many more. Butterflies

There are also herbs that can be used both to attract pollinators and can be used in the kitchen.  Some of these are: fennel, oregano, garlic chives, sage, mint, mustard greens, and thyme.

Plan your garden

You can attract friendly insects with gardens big and small, but usually there is a reason you wish to attract them.  Maybe you enjoy watching butterflies flutter and bees buzz.  In that case, you’ll want your garden landscaped with areas for you to sit down and watch.  Maybe you’re planting pollinators to help with your tomato plants or a peach tree.  In this case, you’ll want to discuss how best to position the plants that attract beneficial insects so that they buzz on over to the plants that really need pollinating.

Take time to enjoy it all

In this hustle and bustle world, it may be hard to find time to contemplate the flowers or watch the bees and butterflies do their thing.  But make sure to make time to enjoy your yard.  Why else have a gorgeously landscaped space which attracts beautiful little insects?

Here’s to a summer filled with bright blooms and beneficial insects.


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Consider Going Native

Southern California native plants are gorgeous, and – once established – they can cut down on the water bill.  Not only can adding natives to your landscape help keep your yard green with less water, they also attract native animals like birds, butterflies and more.

Here are some great natives to consider planting:

Full Sun/Flowers or Flowering ShrubberyCalifornia Golden Poppy

Hollyhock, California Poppy, Fried Egg Flower, Godetia, Pineleaf Penstemon, Broadleaf Sedum, Eaton’s Penstemon, Calliopsis, Hummingbird Trumpet, Black-Eyed Susan, Sea Pink, Desert Evening Primrose, California Buckwheat, Bigleaf Lupine

Partial or Full Shade/Flowers or Flowering Shrubbery

Baby Blue Eyes, Ribes Currants, Mock Orange, Snowberry, Meadow Rue, Coral Bells, Coastal Sage Scrub, California Lilac, Bush Sunflower, Chaparral


Fir (red/white), Big-Leaf Maple, Desert Ash, Californa Black Walnut, Sugar Pine, Honey Mesquite, Velvet Mesquite, Douglas Fir, California Oak, Blue Oak, Engelmann Oak, Mountain Hemlock

These and many other plants make a great addition to any yard.  When landscaping, give some thought to native plants.  They can help you save on your water bill, are less of an effort to care for, and attract wonderful animals.



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Making a Gorgeous Veggie Patch

It seems like vegetable gardens can be pretty boring places – if delicious.  But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  In fact, making your vegetable garden prettier can actually help it thrive.  Adding flowers, as well as additional little details can help transform the space into a place to be enjoyed.  Here are some ideas:Bright Veggie Garden

– Location, Location, Location

Picking a pretty location for your garden makes the space that much more enjoyable.   This can be challenging if you don’t have much yard, but a small hillside or a little spot that overlooks the rest of your yard can work great.

Another idea is to pick a spot that is nice to look at from inside your home or from your back patio.

– Make an Entrance

Even if you have a little garden, you can make it beautiful by adding an entryway.  This could be as simple as installing a picket fence with a little gate, and as glamorous as installing a terraced walkway with an arch at the entryway.

If you don’t have enough space to install an entryway, try adding ornamentation which makes your veggie patch pop.  You can add little gnomes, a birdhouse or birdbath, or even a bench that overlooks it all.

– Add Flowers 

Don’t just grow veggies or fruit in your veggie patch.  Try growing flowers.  You can grow lavender – which is fragrant and pretty – as well as a useful herb, or plant bright flowers like California Golden Poppies, daisies, magnolias, sunflowers, and more.  You can even force tulips and plant them – which is the perfect flower this time of year.

Another idea is to allow some of your vegetables to flower – or stagger their planting so that they flower at different times.

– Raise the Beds

Raised beds make your garden look neat and orderly.  Additionally, they provide natural walkways between beds.

If you have a hillside home, raised beds are great for keeping the soil where you want it, while still planting on your hillside.

– Think with Color

Vegetables can be other colors besides just green.  Think with both taste and color when you pick varietals.  Additionally, if you want to add flowers, try for colors that will pop and catch your eye.  Not only will you enjoy them, but the bees will too!

– Brighten up with Pots

Sometimes you can add a little color just by adding bright pots to your yard.

– Cut Down on Weeds, Use Mulch

Using mulch helps your vegetables, and has the added benefit of making weeds easy to pull.  One thing to think with when you use mulch, however, is that you should try to pull any weeds before laying it down and if you choose manure, make sure it is fully cured as sometimes weed seeds can survive the digestive system of an animal.

– Attract the Right Animals

When you have a natural yard, you want to attract birds to eat the bad insects off the plants.  Utilizing some native plants, and providing areas for birds to perch and bathe goes a long way in attracting the birds you want to your yard.

Additionally, flowers and staggering your plantings so they bloom at different times will attract bees as long as you have sweet, fragrant, and bright flowers.  You need bees to pollinate things like tomatoes and squash – so cultivate a garden that they will enjoy.

Here’s to a fruitful vegetable patch!

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New Years Resolutions

Each year, all around the US, we make home improvement resolutions.  This coming year, here are some fun landscaping ideas:

– Create a natural habitat for local butterflies and/or birds.  Add bushes, bright and nice-smelling flowers, bird baths, trees, and bird houses.

– Add natural plants to your landscape.  If you aren’t too attached to you lawn, try out some natural landscaping with local plants.  You’ll be surprised what beautiful birds and insects you will attract.

Install landscape lighting.  Some ideas for this are track lighting along your walk ways, LED lights in the trees, lamps, etc.

– Try out a vegetable garden.  A vegetable garden certainly does not have to be traditional.  You can do a traditional English herb garden, or even plant fruit trees and shrubs.

– Install a sprinkler system.  This is a great way to conserve your water useage.

– Add a waterscape.  You don’t have to install a full-fledged pool to enjoy the cool sound of running water in your yard.   You can install a pond, waterfall, foutain, or a non-traditional waterscape.

– Get inspired. Throughout the year, visit local parks and gardens and see what they do in the off-season to keep their spaces looking gorgeous.

Here’s to a very happy holiday – and a wonderful New Year!

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