I live in Asheville, NC.
I recently removed a swath of privet/bamboo/wild rose/wild grape/poison
ivy/etc that ran about 150' along the back of my yard. Now that the
area is almost ready for planting I'm looking for some suggestions as
to what to plant in this area. Before I took it down it seemed to be
popular with birds and whatnot. Now that I'm in the process of redoing
this area I'd like to plant some shrubs/trees that are bird friendly,
either food producing or good nesting opportunities.
What would work? The area is on the east side of the lot; the sun hits
that area during the mid morning (my neighbor's home is about 25' from
the area). It is well drained with a small ditch/culvert between the 2
At this time I am setting a "line" along the area which will have grass
on one side (to patch in to my yard) and the shrubs/trees on the other.
Thanks for any ideas. I was thinking of a few burning bushes, some
blueberry bushes, and made a couple of maple.
Pretty much anything with the word "berry" in the name is a good choice!
If you're really organized about it, you might want to think about the
different seasons that the shrubs fruit during....for example,
blueberries will fruit during the summer, viburnum and mahonia during
the fall, and holly will produce berries during the winter. If you have
a spot where you want year-round screening, holly is a good choice.
Beautyberry is also nice and somewhat less common.
There was an article in a recent Mother Earth News about the topic, and
my husband was very interested in selecting some bird friendly shrubs
for the scrubbier part of our yard that needs some landscaping overhaul.
I'll try to dig it up and see if there are any other good ideas.
The birdies will appreciate some evergreens for cover year round. My
parents have a huge screen of cedar next to their house--must be 40
years old at least, and the birds hang there all the time, right up by
their bedroom window. It's a better spot for bird watching than the feeders!
Robins will appreciate it if you surround your other plantings with a
thick layer of leafy mulch without fertilizer/pesticides, to promote
lots and lots of worms.
Finally, not really a shrub, but nothing beats a good stand of
Italian-style sunflowers to attract finches. For some reason, seeing
finches flitting about in the yard makes me feel truly blessed.
Most burning bush cultivars do not fruit well & even if you got wild
burning bushes that do fruit well, birds don't much like the tiny berries.
Many other shrubs that'd be hardy NY will have the same trait of good
autumn color PLUS provide berries for birds, including chokeberries
(Aronia) & serviceberries (Amelenchier).
Less colorful in autumn but still a splendid shrub is Black Twinberry,
fast-growing & birds will eat those berries too. Elderberry shrubs of
various kinds are beautiful, rapidly grow to a size sufficient for birds
to nest in, & again with berries that feed birds. Elderberry & twinberry
both grow so fast it's incredible, so there'll be something substantial in
the area rather soon even if you start with small specimens.
Flowering currants (R. sanguineum) & red currants (R. rubrum) are GREAT
shrubs for fruits & foliage & even pretty decent autumn color. They are
banned in some areas however because they can be host plants for white
pine blister. Your idea of blueberries is great as the fruits are second
to none & the autumn color amazing (on some of them) but they won't thrive
unless you're going to water them very regularly & their upkeep in general
is greater than everything else mentioned here. If you're not shooting for
low-maintenance then go for 'em. Otherwise something like a highbush
cranberry (i.e., Viburnum trilobum, V. elatus, or V. sargentiana) might be
a better choice, great autumn color, great fruits, little care required.
Planting to feed birds attracts more birds than planting for nests. Many
birds build nests in places well away from food supplies, such as in a big
evergreen or something non-fruiting, as otherwise they'll be constantly
dive-bombing fellow birds who while foraging in branches for food are
getting too close to a nest. So planting for nesting purposes sometimes
means planting things that don't fruit & through which birds will be
vastly more thinly scattered.
-paghat the ratgirl
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