& Protect Wildlife Habitat
Biodiversity (the number and variety of life forms) is crucial to the health
and resiliency of any ecosystem and its inhabitants. However, biodiversity
frequently suffers as urban development replaces native habitat. This
doesn’t need to be the case. Residential and commercial landscapes can be
designed to provide food, water, and shelter to encourage and protect native
A diverse landscape provides habitat for wildlife. In addition a diverse
landscape resists pests and diseases better than those with little
diversity. Provide a wide variety of plants:
- annuals, biennials and perennials
- different sizes, shapes, colors, textures, bloom times, canopy
levels, and root zones
- evergreens and deciduous
- fruit and berry bearing
- starting with a trial zone and increasing the diversity over
- converting a lawn (or part of a lawn) that no one uses with a
- avoid planting invasive species since they often destroy
- remove invasive weeds
Local wildlife is well-adapted to
(like this salvia).
Local wildlife is well-adapted to local native plants. Therefore
it’s best to choose them first. Other California native plants that
match the microclimate are also good choices. Another benefits of
native plants is that they require less water, fertilizers, and
maintenance than non-natives. When planting natives:
- select a variety of species that match the microclimate of
- group flowering species in dense stands of at least 16
square feet (rather than planting isolated single plants) to
attract native pollinators
- let some plants go to seed for food for wildlife
Provide nesting sites, shelter, and clean fresh water to
encourage wildlife. But be careful not to create breeding sites
for mosquitoes. Here are a few suggestions:
- Put in a birdbath — but be sure to change the water at
least every few days
- Include a pond or water feature, with circulating water
and/or fish (solar powered pumps will reduce energy
- Including rockwalls and boulders as design elements will
also provide habitat
- Install birdhouses in secure locations
- Consider leaving wood materials or downed trees in place
if they don’t threaten structures or parking areas or create
a fire hazard
Pesticides kill not only the targeted pest species, but
also the beneficial organisms that keep pests under control.
They are also harmful to the native wildlife.
- use pesticides sparingly and as a last resort
- implement good integrated pest management practices
- read the label on every pesticide (including
naturally derived pesticides) for toxicity to non-target
Careful site planning, especially for new
development along the urban-wild interface, is important
for protecting biodiversity. Natural areas and corridors
increase habitat and range, supporting a diversity of
organisms and allowing them to travel safely between
- become familiar with local open space
- limit earthwork and clearing of vegetation
- on developed sites, restore open space by
planting native vegetation
- build in wildlife corridors adjacent to open
spaces, wild lands, and creeks
- consider corridors when building roads and
Click on any section to learn more
Here are some more in depth articles on specific RFL topics that you might
find of interest:
RFL Inspiration Garden
Mulch, Grasscycling, and Compost
Fertilize Naturally — Is Feeding
Frenzy Really Needed?
Plant Trees, Save Energy!
Right Plant, Right Place!
Take Action to Save Water Outdoors…
Lawn Care: How Green is Your Grass?
Rethink Your Lawn
Pests Bugging You?
River-Friendly Pest Control
Managing Common Pests
Interview about RFL (MP3)
Choose California natives first
Don't Blow It!
Reducing Outdoor Asthma
Watch the YouTube video
Flow - Make Your Landscape Act Like a Sponge"
to learn about the importance of landscaping to stormwater quality.