Biodiversity doesn’t only revolve around species we consider rare, endangered, and threatened but around every living being, from organisms to humans, plants, and animals. The term biodiversity means a variety of life on Earth at all levels, from ecosystems to genes. It also encompasses the evolutionary, cultural, and ecological processes that support and sustain life.
If you want to stimulate biodiversity in your backyard garden, the first thing you should do is naturalize your lawn and avoid harmful and toxic chemicals. You can also make butterfly gardens, plants, trees, flowers, and shrubs that attract pollinators and other animals. Creating habitats and providing food and water to animals also helps increase biodiversity in your garden.
In this article, we will discuss the meaning and essence of biodiversity and the ways to stimulate biodiversity in your garden.
What Is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity englobes the different kinds of lives you’ll find in one area. Biodiversity encompasses various animals, plants, fungi, and microorganisms like bacteria. The term came from two words: biological and diversity.
In biodiversity, each organism and species work together to support life and maintain balance. It supports everything in nature so that it can supply humans, animals, plants, and others with the things we need to survive, namely shelter, food, and water.
As humans put increasing pressure on the planet, we use and consume more resources than ever before and are upsetting the balance of the ecosystem and losing biodiversity every day.
According to WWF, there has been an average of 60% loss in the global population of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians since 1970.
While Earth’s biodiversity is so rich that we still have lots of species to discover, many other species are threatened with extinction. Through human activities, we are endangering Earth’s biodiversity.
However, within human power, we can fix our actions to ensure the survival of species and maintain balance in our ecosystem. By understanding the threats to biodiversity, humans can manage to prepare conservation projects.
For the past decades, mankind has made significant differences in state biodiversity. Over 1,000,000 protected areas, such as wildlife refuges, game reserves, marine protected areas, and local communities provide habitat for wildlife.
You can also take part in increasing biodiversity in your backyard garden. With this, you’d be helping Earth regenerate and stimulate its ecosystem.
If you want your backyard to be the home to different bird species, one of the things that you can do is build a bird sanctuary. This structure provides shelter and food to different kinds of birds. To help you get started with this project, here is our ultimate guide to building a backyard bird sanctuary.
Nine Ways to Increase Biodiversity in Your Yard
Small and well-functioning biodiversity in your yard positively impacts the environment. It also gives a healthy food source and a magnificent view of plants and animals gathering around.
With the ongoing battle against climate change, our well-being, health, and economic prosperity are ordered by the well-being, health, and abundance of the natural environment that surrounds us.
Biodiversity plays a critical role in our daily lives as it helps the elements maintain a natural balance between animals, plants, and humans.
Here are nine ways to increase biodiversity in your backyard garden:
1. Avoid pesticides and harsh chemicals
Pesticides are known to be toxic to humans, animals, and the Earth. These chemicals can be washed off by rain and irrigation water that lands on waterways, thus damaging aquatic species and killing fish and beneficial algae. If humans ingested these chemicals, they could contract infections and diseases.
Thus, to increase biodiversity in your yard, avoid using harmful and toxic chemicals. Instead, turn to natural pest control and natural fertilizers, like homemade compost and manure. These organic fertilizers provide the necessary nutrients needed for plant growth without harming the Earth.
Prevention is the best way to discourage and deal with pests and diseases. Maintain and groom your plants and check them regularly for unwanted visitors.
2. Naturalize your lawn
Lawns are unnatural habitats if you want to increase biodiversity in your yard. To support diversity, create a naturalized area. Doing so will reduce the size of your lawn, the watering, and the mowing activity.
You can start planting grasses, shrubs, flowers, and other vegetation in the shady areas of your lawn. Plant and group them in clusters to attract butterflies, birds, and other animals. To attract specific wildlife, you have to supply particular food, water, shelter, and breeding needs.
3. Attract pollinators and other insects
Pollinators are essential to create and maintain the ecosystem and habitats, as many animals rely on them for food and shelter. While insect species ensure a natural and greater balance in the garden, they also prevent other insects from being too dominant.
Attracting pollinators and insects into your backyard increases biodiversity in it. Pest insects aren’t large enough to cause greater damages to your plants, unless parasites and predators are present in the garden too.
The most common pollinator is the honey bee. Bumblebees and solitary bees are essential to the environment as well. Planting plants that are rich in nectar is the best way to attract bees, especially:
- Mountain mints
- Mimosa trees
- Apple trees
4. Create other types of habitats
Another way to attract biodiversity in your garden is to create other types of habitats. To do so, you have to supply a food source by planting fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, and flowers that produce nectar. Perennials also provide shelter and breeding ground for some species.
A dead tree plays an important role by providing a habitat for insects, squirrels, birds, chipmunks, and other mammals. Meanwhile, rock, mulch, log, and compost piles serve as breeding grounds for rabbits, mice, shrews, and salamanders.
5. Butterfly garden
You can increase biodiversity in your yard by attracting butterflies. Creating a butterfly garden is one way to draw butterflies. Therefore, plant flowers that are rich in nectar and host plants for their larvae.
Here are some plants you can plant that are rich in nectar:
- Eastern bee balms
- Butterfly bushes
- Black-eyed Susan
- New England asters
- Purple coneflowers
- Butterfly weed
Dill, spicebush, pansy, parsley, white oak, and river birch are plants that support caterpillars.
6. The more native species, the better
Plants grow better in a favored environment and their native habitats, where climate and soil are perfect for their development and growth. Plants also form symbiotic relationships with other native plants that help them scatter their seeds and discourage pests and diseases.
Relationships like this help plants defend themselves naturally and prevent bigger damages to their leaves, flowers, and shoots. Native plants require fewer resources and maintenance to grow healthily compared to non-native plants.
The more trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants in your yard, the more the increase of biodiversity is guaranteed. Make sure to maintain a healthy environment to avoid any distress in your plants.
7. Add an open water source
To draw birds, insects, and small mammals into your garden, consider adding a bird feeder, pond, and other open water sources. If you have a pond in your yard, you can add fish, turtles, aquatic plants, and frogs to improve the biodiversity in your yard and attract more species.
If you’re doubting adding an open water source because mosquitoes might use it to lay their eggs, you can add predators like topminnows, tadpoles, backswimmers, and water boatmen. These predators will feast on mosquito larvae and help decrease their number.
8. Depend on Permaculture principles
Permaculture revolves around the idea that all habitats must be designed to be self-sustainable and regenerative, like the Earth is. It also defines the principles used in environmental design, agriculture, and ecological engineering. Permaculture means permanent agriculture.
Here are the 12 permaculture principles:
- Observe and interact
- Catch and store energy
- Apply self-regulation and feedback
- Produce no waste
- Obtain a yield
- Use and value renewables
- Use small, slow solutions
- Integrate, don’t segregate
- Use and value diversity
- Use edges and value the marginal
- Creatively use and respond to change
- Design from patterns to details
9. Remove exotic plants
Removing invasive and exotic plants leaves more space for more important plants in your garden. Bush honeysuckles are some of the most aggressive exotic plants, together with Wintercreeper euonymus and Japanese honeysuckle.
Plants that aren’t native to your area can be invasive, and take over your garden and threatening the growth and survival of native plants. Their removal provides space for native plants to prosper and develop. Native plants are part of the local ecosystem in your garden and provide habitat for other animals.
Habitat loss is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity on the Earth. As simple homeowners, you might think that there is nothing that you can do to help with this issue, but there is something that you can do. One way to help improve biodiversity is by transforming your garden and backyard into something that is beneficial for a lot of different organisms.
It’s easy to support biodiversity by providing the important needs of living creatures, such as food, water, shelter, and breeding ground for wildlife and plants. You should also focus on helping native species thrive instead of letting invasive species control your little ecosystem.
By the time you’re enjoying gardening, you’ll notice nature and discover more ways to enhance your garden. Keep in mind that biodiversity is an ongoing process. By transforming your space into something that supports various walks of life, you are already making a positive contribution.