In this issue:  Dealing with neighbor conflicts and wildlife gardening, get berry shrub recommendations for your region, and see the newest featured site. 
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The Dirt: News from YardMap
Joining together to break new ground for birds
Late Summer 2014

This front yard garden includes important components for wildlife habitat while maintaining a small patch of lawn to create a tidy appearance. Photo by Lori L. Stalteri via Flickr

 Gardening for Wildlife and Neighborly Conflicts

We often hear about the challenges that wildlife gardeners face when dealing with neighbors who don't appreciate a more "natural" look to their landscape. Most of these conflicts arise from a misunderstanding about wildlife gardens, as some people might interpret your yard as being the result of  "lazy landscaping." For those who have recently moved to an area where turf grass is the norm, it can be intimidating to branch out (pun intended) and fill your lawn with trees, shrubs, and flowers. Conflict resolution can be a tough endeavor, so we've come up a with a few helpful suggestions about how to provide habitat for wildlife while maintaining good relations with neighbors. 
  • Stay ahead of conflicts: know your town's codes and ordinances for property maintenance.
  • Keep a tidy edge: mow a small border around your wildlife garden to present a more manicured and intentional look. 
  • Put up a sign: a sign that certifies your property as valuable wildlife habitat can help facilitate friendly conversations with neighbors and reinforce the purpose of your landscape design. Check out these signs from the National Wildlife Federation and Monarch Watch
  • Check in: some neighborhoods have homeowners associations that may help to disseminate information via email or newsletter – see if you can share wildlife garden tips, such as a list of native plants for your area. Or, organize a meeting or workshop about creating wildlife habitat at a facility owned by the homeowners association. Don't have a homeowner's association? No problem. Get in touch with neighbors and create a community network through Next Door
  • Reach out: local conservation groups may have helpful suggestions pertinent to your locality, such as a flier or brochure about creating habitat that you can hand out to neighbors. 
Read more about this topic here
The "Back Ten Feet House" is a great example of gardening for wildlife in a hot and dry climate. Photo by Sue Scott. 

New Featured Site:
The Back Ten Feet House

Sue Scott, the site owner of the “Back Ten Feet House,” is passionate about gardening for wildlife. So much so, that she has made it her life’s work. Scott operates a consulting business, “The Back Ten Feet with Sue Scott.” She visits clients and provides them with guidance and resources to create beautiful landscapes in southwest Florida utilizing native plants that are beneficial to birds, pollinators, and other wildlife.

She has a unique approach when encouraging clients to reduce the size of their turf-grass-only properties by converting the back 10 feet of their yard to flowers and shrubs native to their region. Scott says, “What I love is that even here in Florida, there really are seasons. And the native plants all bloom at different times, providing for the birds and other animals who are passing through.”

Click here to continue reading about the "Back Ten Feet House." 

The New YardMap 
Object Icon Is...

New bat house icon in YardMap
Now you can add a bat house to your YardMap. Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 
Bat House! It was a close race, but YardMappers voted for a bat house object icon over an apiary, flower box/planter/container, or bee nest. Not to worry though – if you were really hoping for one of the other icons, we are making  those available as well. Thank you to all the voters who participated in the poll. Check out the new object icons, and add them to your map using the YardMap toolshed today!  

New Interactive Feature

on YardMap

Top five berries for your region

Ready to think beyond bird feeders and let plants provide food for wildlife? We've compiled regional top-five lists of native berry-producing shrubs that are beneficial to birds throughout the year. Berries provide vital nutrition to birds when they need it most – migration and winter. These native shrubs also support insects that birds consume, provide nectar to important pollinators, and are larval host plants for butterflies and moths.

And that’s not all – adding native shrubs to your property is a great way to provide a place for birds to nest and seek cover while enhancing structural diversity in your landscape. Plant them in groups to really maximize the value to wildlife and beautify your backyard habitat. Find your native berry shrubs here
Find the right nest box for birds in your area at All About Birdhouses. Photo by Andrew Malone via Flickr.

All About Birdhouses

Have you always wanted to put up a birdhouse, but weren't sure which species you could attract to your area? Or just not sure what birds need? Visit our new All About Birdhouses section over at NestWatch.

With our Right Bird, Right House interactive, just enter your region and habitat type, and we'll show you which birds you could attract with a nest box (or other nesting structure). With 54 birds to choose from, including declining species, you will find everything you need to support more nesting birds in your yard, plus lots of good landlord tips for continuing the success for many years.


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The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

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