Get your Snow White on and attract all of nature’s adorable creatures.

Do you ever look outside at your yard and wish a fluffy chipmunk, timid deer, or beautiful butterfly would find its way onto your property? If you crave a little wildlife engagement without hiking the local trails, there are actually a few things you can do to attract wildlife to your backyard. Ever delightful, Steve Bender, our resident Grumpy Gardener, is here to help. The first step of attracting wildlife is to put yourself in their shoes (er—paws?).

Just like humans, animals have three essential needs—food, water, and shelter. Would you want to visit someone’s home if they didn’t offer you a bite to eat or something to sip on, and they wanted to stand in the rain in the backyard? Probably not, and animals are no different. You would be polite and welcoming to any human guests, so you should do the same for animal guests as well (we are in the South, honey).

To start, let’s get these critters something to munch on. When you think of animals that eat acorns, squirrels are the first species that come to mind, but they’re not the only wildlife that enjoys acorns. So if you have oak trees that are dropping acorns in your yard, bravo! Grumpy says that acorns also make “really good ammo” if you get in a fight with your sibling, but we won’t test that out (today at least). Another plant that animals like to eat is called beautyberry, and unsurprisingly, it will look pretty in your yard. It’s a shrub with purple berries that animals will eat, and it’s easy to grow in the South. It would be difficult for you to endure a whole meal without a glass of water, right? Animals are going to want some water to wash that yummy food down, so be a gracious hostess and give them some for goodness sake. The best way to serve water to them is in a shallow dish like a birdbath or fountain. Grumpy says that the sound of splashing water is “absolutely magical” in terms of attracting wildlife, so moving-water fountains and displays are ideal. Lastly, animals want some shelter if they’re visiting. To ensure they’re covered (pun intended), plant some evergreens around the perimeter of your property. Tall evergreens will give them plenty of shelter to get comfortable and nest.

Now that you know what to plant to attract wildlife to your backyard, you’re halfway to becoming a Disney princess, right?

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