sttrawberry-hedgehogEvery day we are one day closer to our summer monsoon rains. When our summer rains begin in earnest, the months of July and August become a great time to landscape your yard. The combination of warm temperatures and abundant moisture creates the perfect environment for getting plants well established before winter’s slumber.

For years, I have been promoting the semi-annual native plant sale hosted by the Highlands Center for Natural History. Landscaping with native plants is a logical and intelligent choice. Native plants are drought tolerant, disease resistant and hardy in winter.

In the past, finding a local supplier for native plants year-round has been challenging, but now all of that has changed with the opening of The Native Garden store located at 602 South Montezuma St. in Prescott. While my expertise is birds, I understand the inextricable link between creating an inviting habitat and attracting birds to your yard.

When new customers come to our store and want to know how to attract birds to their yard, it is easy to recommend specific kinds of feeders and birdseed. However, more important than feeders and seed is the absolutely critical need to create a habitat that provides four essential elements.

The National Wildlife Federation has a backyard wildlife certification program to encourage homeowners to make their yards wildlife friendly. They emphasize the importance of food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise young. Providing food sources is a lot more than putting out birdseed – it includes plants which harbor insects and produce seeds, berries and nuts. Plants additionally create cover and provide places for wildlife to raise young.

As I drive around Prescott, I frequently see yards that have been “landscaped” with an assortment of decorative rocks. I teach classes on attracting birds to your yard, and I emphasize is that landscaping with rock is not wildlife friendly. Rock yards do not produce seeds and berries, nor do they act as a host for insects. Rock yards do not create cover or provide places for rearing young.

“Green” yards can be both low maintenance and beautiful. If you have any interest at all in turning your yard into a backyard wildlife habitat that is bird-friendly, I encourage you to visit The Native Garden. They specialize in plants that are native to the central highlands, including trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, cacti and succulents.

In addition to plants, they sell heirloom seeds, have rainwater harvesting solutions, construct greenhouses, and have cooking classes. They do it all! Their experimental gardens will just blow you away. They have planted heirloom seeds in test gardens to determine the germination rate, date to maturity, and whether the plants will grow well here. Their approach is totally herbicide- and pesticide-free, and is completely organic. Two green thumbs up!