The Buzz About How to Attract Birds and Butterflies to Your Yard

Lauren Wellbank
Written by Lauren Wellbank
Updated February 22, 2022
 A close up of a butterfly on a purple flower
Photo: smrm1977 / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

These tips will have birds and butterflies flocking to your yard

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Most garden spaces can be improved by adding birds and butterflies to them. Not only do they add a layer of visual interest—watching birds through the window as they splash around in a birdbath can be fun for both you and your four-legged friends—but they can help improve your flower gardens. Birds and butterflies are prolific pollinators, which means their presence actually helps your garden grow. Let’s take a look at how you can attract more birds and butterflies to your yard. 

1. Cater to Their Needs 

A lot of birds are fond of skipping town once the mercury drops, so if you want to make sure your yard is a haven for them all year long (yes, even in the dead of winter when most of them have flown south), then you’ll need to make sure you’re giving them what they need. Put out seed, water, and birdhouses to make them feel at home. They’ll be especially thankful for the easy access to food and water in the cooler months, especially once there’s a layer of snow on the ground. 

2. Give Them What They Want

Both birds and butterflies have favorite foods. Make sure you’ve got plenty of it available for when your winged guests stop by. For birds, this means the seed and water mentioned above, but also planting the types of plants they love. For example, orioles love to nest in elm trees, and sparrows love willows and birch. 

To attract butterflies to your garden, make sure you have a lot of colorful flowers that they can come and visit to collect nectar. Try planting a butterfly garden full of cosmos, zinnias, and other brightly-colored blooms. 

3. Accommodate Their Life Cycle

Similar to how you should still remember to put out seed for birds in winter, you’ll want to make sure your yard accommodates each stage of a butterfly’s life cycle. That means you need to do more than just plant beautiful flowers. You’ll also need to leave your yard a bit messy in the “off” season so that they have places to lay their eggs, and then give them cover from birds while they’re in their larva and caterpillar stages. Which we understand can be kind of tricky if you’re also working to bring more birds to your yard! 

4. Plant Native Plants

Every ZIP code has a USDA Hardiness Zone. Search yours and find out what types of plants are native to your area and then go out and plant some. These plants are the ones that local birds and butterflies already need to survive, so if you add more of them to your yard, you’re likely to get more visitors stopping by to check them out. 

5. Plant a Pollinator Garden

A close up of hummingbird perching on plant
Photo: Dan Ripplinger / 500px / Getty Images

Just like adding native plants, adding the plants that pollinators love will keep all sorts of winged (and some crawling) visitors coming back for more. You can often buy seed packets that contain a variety of plants that promise to bring a winged army to your yard. If you’re unsure of what to plant, a local landscaper can help you choose the right flowers for your yard. 

6. Avoid Using Chemicals

Unfortunately, many common pest control chemicals and weed control options can be harmful to all sorts of wildlife. So, if you’re hoping to increase the number of surprise guests you get flocking to your garden this summer, you’ll want to cut back on (or cut out) toxic chemicals. 

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