This is an opportunity for everyone to appreciate nature and all of the wild critters that live around us. You may think that there are no wild animals in your yard, but you would be surprised. Every yard has at least one or two critters like squirrels, rabbits, mice, and deer. You may not see them, but they are there nonetheless and believe it or not, most of them are actually good for your yard and your garden.

raccoon with wet feet

History of National Wildlife Day

This awesome holiday was created in 2006 to honor the late Steve Irwin. If you don’t know who he is then you must have never watched Animal Planet. Or seen the Tonight Show. He was known as the Crocodile Hunter and traveled all over the world with his crew teaching the world about crocodiles and other critters that live outside. You may not get off work for National Wildlife Day, but it is on a Sunday this year so you are probably off work anyway. Although we did not have an actual wildlife holiday until recently, there have been people trying to get us all to appreciate these critters for a long time. In 1973, President Nixon signed a law protecting certain animals when they were getting too few in number. We do this to stop people from killing off all of a certain species. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, we are in the middle of our sixth mass extinction with the highest number of die-offs ever. We lose up to five species every year and there are approximately 1,131 mammals in the world that are classed as vulnerable, threatened, or endangered.

colorful honeysuckle blooms

What You Can Do to Help

If you know there are deer and other wildlife in your area that pass through your yard and you don’t mind feeding them naturally, plant some things that you know they like and let them eat it. Not only will it help them, but it will also make you feel good when you see deer and other critters helping themselves to some chow. First of all, certain types of grasses like Sudan and Sorghum are yummy to most deer as well as rabbits. Red clover is another favorite to these animals and so are some flowers like cosmos, foxglove, lavender, honeysuckle, poppies, and sunflowers. If you like trees, fruit of any kind is hard for deer to resist. I have a persimmon tree and they come every year for those sweet fruits. They would also love cherries, apples, pears, and plums.

falling water in a pond

Water Features

All animals (and people) need water to live so make sure your wildlife have plenty of fresh water for drinking and for cleaning. If you have never seen a raccoon washing its food in water, you have to check it out. It is adorable! Although many people think raccoons are destructive, as long as you keep them at a distance, they are cute and fun to watch. You don’t have to go all out and make an elaborate pond or anything. A birdbath made out of a bowl is good for the birds and the deer and other critters would be perfectly happy with a kid’s swimming pool filled with cool water when it is hot outside.

hummingbird hovering at a feeder

Pollinators

If you just want some birds and bees in your garden, try planting some flowers. Hummingbirds love all kinds of flowers, but they favor the color red for some reason. However, they will flock to any color flower with nectar such as honeysuckle, trumpet vine, cardinal flowers, sage, bee balm, columbine, lilies, and lupine. Bees and butterflies will join the hummingbirds in drinking the nectar from these beauties and in return, they will pollinate the flowers and plants they touch. They are also fun to take pictures of. Especially hummingbirds. These tiny birds can hover in place like a helicopter and will actually just hang there in front of your face to pose for a picture. Especially if you are wearing something red.

deer peeking through a fence

How to Keep Pests Out of Your Garden

Of course, some people do not want to see wildlife in their yard and we definitely don’t want to see them eating our prized roses or tomatoes. To keep those pests out of your garden, there are some things you can try. First, you can try the obvious, a fence. It has to be pretty high though because deer can jump, and raccoons can climb. There are also some plants that will deter deer, like thistle, oregano, thyme, sage, or lavender. You could also spray the plants some scents that the deer will not like. Mix together one tablespoon of dish soap, one cup of milk, one egg, and one gallon of water and put it in a spray bottle. It is safe for plants and other animals but will keep the deer and most other critters from snacking on them.

Another deterrent is human and dog hair clippings. Seriously, save some of your hair from your next haircut or just pull some from your brush if you shed like I do. And get some hair from your pooch by brushing them or you can probably just get it off your furniture. Sprinkle it all over your yard where you do not want the wildlife to go. Hopefully, you and the wildlife can live together in peace and harmony as nature intended.