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Creating a Wildlife Haven: Tips for a Wildlife-Friendly Garden


by Chelsea Blyth

Within Alberta’s landscapes, residents have an opportunity to cultivate thriving ecosystems right in their own backyard. By making conscious choices in garden design and plant selection, individuals can transform their outdoor spaces into havens for local wildlife. In this article, we’ll explore several strategies tailored to Alberta’s unique environment, aimed at making your garden a welcoming sanctuary for birds, bees, butterflies, and other precious wildlife.

Native Plants

One of the most effective ways to attract wildlife to your garden is by incorporating native plants. Alberta boasts a rich diversity of native flora adapted to its climate and soil conditions. Plants such as wild bergamot, prairie smoke, and purple coneflower not only add beauty to your garden but also provide essential food and habitat for local wildlife. The Alberta Native Plant Council1 offers valuable resources for identifying and sourcing native plants suitable for various regions within the province.

Pollinator Friendly Plants

Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators play a crucial role in ecosystem health and food production. By planting a variety of nectar-rich flowers, you can attract these important pollinators to your garden. Consider adding plants like bee balm, milkweed, and sunflowers, which provide abundant nectar and pollen throughout the growing season. The University of Alberta’s Devonian Botanic Garden2 offers recommendations for pollinator-friendly plants suitable for Alberta’s climate.
Prairie smoke flower (Public Domain).

Provide Water Sources

Water is essential for all forms of wildlife, especially during Alberta’s dry summers. Incorporating water features such as bird baths,3 ponds, or shallow dishes can attract birds, butterflies, and other creatures to your garden. Ensure that water sources are easily accessible and regularly maintained to provide a clean and safe drinking spot for wildlife.

Create Shelters

Incorporating natural elements like rocks, logs, and native grasses into your garden can provide shelter and nesting sites for wildlife. Leaving leaf litter and deadwood in designated areas creates habitat for insects, which in turn attract birds and other animals. Building bat houses, bird boxes, or insect hotels can further enhance habitat diversity and support a wide range of species. The Alberta Wilderness Association4 offers resources and guidelines for creating wildlife-friendly habitats in urban and suburban settings.

Minimizing Chemical Use

Avoiding the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides is essential for creating a wildlife-friendly garden. These chemicals can harm5 beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife, disrupting the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Instead, opt for natural pest control methods such as companion planting, handpicking pests, or using organic alternatives.

Tree swallow using nestbox (photo by Don Delaney).

Creating a wildlife-friendly garden in Alberta is not only a rewarding endeavor but also a vital contribution to conserving the province’s natural heritage. By embracing native plants, providing essential resources like water and shelter, and adopting sustainable gardening practices, residents can play a significant role in supporting local biodiversity. Whether you have a small backyard or a sprawling acreage, every garden has the potential to become a thriving oasis for wildlife


  1.  Alberta Native Plant Council –

  2.  University of Alberta – Devonian Botanic Garden –

  3. Nature Alberta –

  4. Alberta Wilderness Association –

  5. Alberta Water –

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