What should us green thumbs do to keep us busy while it is raining? Let’s plan a bird-friendly garden!

Birds are already filling our forest, fields, parks and gardens of all sizes. Many are just passing through; others are looking for the right location to build their nests. Unfortunately, lack of habitats and natural food source is the result of dense neighborhoods. But we can do something about it. And have fun while doing it.

Bring out the tools and get creative. You can build birdhouses out of almost anything. An old bucket, a tree stump, left over untreated wood, a watering can, a cracked clay pot, an old teakettle…Visit your favorite search engine for ideas. Fill the small and large gardens with birdhouses and you will soon be rewarded with new neighbors.


A bird-friendly garden is never perfectly manicured and neatly trimmed. Leaf litter, longer grass and discarded bush piles are highly attractive to birds because they are rich sources of insects, nesting material and shelter.

By mimicking the appearance of bird’s natural habitats, you can instantly make your yard more appealing. This does not mean that your yard has to be a jungle, however. Leaving some areas of your landscape in their natural state, particularly in a large lot, can attract a wide range of birds while you can still enjoy manicured landscaping elsewhere.

One highly effective way to attract birds to a natural landscape is to let flowers and shrubs go to seed without removing the plants. Birds will eat the seed, which is also a great way for backyard birders to enjoy a healthy landscape and save money on birdseed. 


When you are planning a bird-friendly landscape choose natural and organic fertilizers that will not harm birds, or remove feeders for a day or two after chemicals have been used.

Minimize or avoid pesticide use and let the bugs be a rich bird food source instead. Add water features, birdhouses, dust baths or feeding stations and tuck them in where they are protected. Know your soil type and be sure the plants you select will thrive, and choose plants suitable for the amount of sun in your yard.

If you live in Santa Ynez Valley, you will have most success using plants that are native to the Valley.


Due to popular demand, the SYV Botanic Garden is once again hosting the annual Valentine Workshop. Create large and small willow hearts and start decorating your trees, fence and walls with love. Bring friends and family to the outdoor activity. Nobody is too young or too old to create hearts. The Garden is located in Riverview Park in Buellton. The event is 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 6. 

Eva Powers, garden designer and owner of Creative Garden Design, is a garden writer, and member of the board, educator and volunteer at SYV Botanic Garden. For more information, contact her at eva@syvbotanicgarden.org or visit https://www.facebook.com/CreativeGardenDesign805/


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