Gardening For The Birds

 

By Amanda Shepard

Birds are some of the most fascinating creatures to watch in the garden. Their chirps are often the first sign that spring has arrived, and nothing is better than sitting back and enjoying the sounds of nature in your yard. There are several ways to create an environment that will attract and help our winged friends! Plant a garden that provides food and shelter for birds to create a beneficial, lively habitat in your own outdoor space.


How To Find The Right Plants For Your Bird Garden

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6 Tips For A Bird-Friendly Garden

  1. Clean WaterProvide a clean source of water for birds. The sight and sounds of moving water in bird baths or water features will attract birds much more effectively than standing water, and helps keep the water clean. Water only needs to be a couple of inches deep for drinking and preening.
  2. Organic PracticesWhen creating your bird habitat, only use organic fertilizers and skip herbicides and pesticides. This is essential for providing safe foods for birds. Instead of trying to prevent bugs in your garden, welcome them as delicious food for your winged friends.
  3. Habitat & ShelterPlant ornamental grasses, shrubs, and small trees to provide shelter for birds. These perennials also provide habitat for insects, which offer another food source for birds -- especially when raising their young. Providing hiding and nesting places for birds protects them, and makes your garden very attractive to visiting wildlife.
  4. Bird Houses & Bird FeedersBird houses are a wonderful way of attracting a nesting pair of birds. Make sure to match the house style and entry hole to the type of bird you wish to attract. Be sure to prevent predators and pests from taking over, for example, by including a baffle on the pole to keep critters out of your birdhouse.
  5. Nesting MaterialLeave plant standing through the fall and winter, or if you cut them down, leave the plant material in place. Seeds provide a food source for birds, and stems provide nesting materials. Plant material also makes good insect habitat, another important food source for birds.
  6. BinocularsSome of the best bird-watching can happen right from the comfort of your window. Enjoy watching and listening to your garden visitors!

Planting Wildflowers For Birds

Wildflowers will provide both nourishment and shelter for birds, as well as provide a gorgeous show for you, both with their beautiful blooms and having the delight of watching the birds outside your window.

  • When planting wildflowers that will attract and feed birds, look for flowers that form large seedheads, such as Sunflowers, Echinacea, and Black Eyed Susan. This enables birds to easily snack on seeds when they ripen without struggling to break seed pods open.
  • Once flowers have finished blooming for the season, you can leave plants standing, or cut everything down and leave the debris on the ground. Leaving plant material over the winter will offer pollinator habitat, and provide material for birds to use in building shelter and nests.
Goldfinch and ZinniaGoldfinch and Zinnia
Zinnias attract birds and a wide range of pollinators to the garden.

Planting Perennials For Birds

You can indulge in a beautiful garden filled with bird-friendly plants! Hardy perennials, including ornamental grasses, shrubs, and flowering plants, all play important roles in creating a bird friendly garden. 

We recommend native plants to provide nectar, nourishing seeds, and delectable fruits for feathered friends. Native plants have evolved in partnership with the wildlife around them over centuries, building relationships that sustain each other in a resilient ecosystem. Native plants will help attract beneficial insects and pollinators, which keep your garden healthy while providing essential protein-rich food sources for birds!

  • A good strategy for planting bird habitat is to create a layered garden.
  • Mix larger, denser plants and trees with smaller varieties to provide birds with shelter and safety. Planting perennials with different heights, densities, and foliage will help to not only provide birds with shelter and nourishment, but will attract a wider range of bird types.
  • Try planting shrubs such as Butterfly Bushes, Hydrangea, and Hibiscus with ornamental grasses such as Fountain Grass, Maiden Grass, or Pampas Grass.
  • Layer in flowers such as Aster, Bee Balm, Gaillardia, Sedum, and Yarrow. 
Coreopsis Seedheads with BirdCoreopsis Seedheads with Bird
Perennials, such as Coreopisis, provide shelter for birds during the cold season. Can you spot the goldfinch?

How To Find The Right Plants For Your Bird Garden

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Perennial Plants For Birds

Birds source food from plants that produce vegetation, fruit, and nectar, and from flower heads that go to seed. Birds are also attracted to plants that provide shelter for bugs - another favorite food!



seeds for attracting birds photoseeds for attracting birds photo

Wildflowers For Supporting Pollinators

If you'd like your garden to buzz and hum with birds and pollinators, grow the plants that they're naturally drawn to. Birds eat fruit, nectar, seeds, and insects such as moths and caterpillars. Our Regional Pollinator Wildflower Mixes feature flowers that are known to attract birds and beneficial insects in your area.


  1. Black Eyed Susan Goldsturm, Rudbeckia with Monarch Butterfly

    'Goldsturm' Black Eyed Susan brings a burst of showy color to the full-sun garden. Golden yellow, daisy-like petals surround nectar-rich, brown center 'buttons' set atop deep green f...

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    Goldsturm Black Eyed Susan Black Eyed Susan Goldsturm Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm
    As low as $7.99 Sale $5.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Goldsturm' Black Eyed Susan brings a burst of showy color to the full-sun garden. Golden yellow, daisy-like petals surround nectar-rich, brown center 'buttons' set atop deep green foliage. Unbothered by most pests, poor soils, drought and humidity, 'Goldsturm' is easygoing and the perfect addition to flower arrangements and pollinator gardens. Deer resistant and long-lasting. (Rudbeckia fulgida)
  2. Purple Callicarpa Plump & Plentiful Amethyst, Beautyberry

    Plump and Plentiful™ 'Amethyst' Beautyberry delivers on its name. Starting in September, the plant is covered in large clusters of bright-purple berries that persist from late fall...

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    Plump And Plentiful™ Amethyst Beautyberry Beautyberry Plump And Plentiful™ Amethyst Callicarpa Plump And Plentiful™ Amethyst
    $21.32 Sale $17.06
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Plump and Plentiful™ 'Amethyst' Beautyberry delivers on its name. Starting in September, the plant is covered in large clusters of bright-purple berries that persist from late fall into early winter. Branches are excellent for cut flower arrangements. Delicate pinkish-purple flowers line the branches in summer. Great as garden specimens, foundation plantings, and in island beds. (Callicarpa)
  3. Four Seasons Bird Watcher Shrub Collection

    Enjoy year-round beauty while providing food and shelter for songbirds with our Four Seasons Bird Watcher Shrub Collection. This exceptional trio includes spring-blooming Forsythia w...

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    Four Seasons Bird Watcher Shrub Collection Four Seasons Bird Watcher Shrub Collection
    $62.65 Sale $49.49
    Per Collection of 3
    Enjoy year-round beauty while providing food and shelter for songbirds with our Four Seasons Bird Watcher Shrub Collection. This exceptional trio includes spring-blooming Forsythia with sunny yellow blooms, native Viburnum with colorful foliage and vibrant clusters of berries, and Beautyberry’s luminous, lavender-purple berries. Visiting songbirds add to the beauty and wonder in the garden.
  4. Magnus Echinacea, Coneflower

    'Magnus' Coneflower has vibrant pink, ray-like flowers that surround deep-orange center cones, attracting plentiful pollinators to the garden throughout the summer. Leaving the spent...

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    Magnus Echinacea Purple Coneflower Magnus Echinacea purpurea Magnus
    As low as $7.99 Sale $7.19
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Magnus' Coneflower has vibrant pink, ray-like flowers that surround deep-orange center cones, attracting plentiful pollinators to the garden throughout the summer. Leaving the spent stems and flowerheads in place to overwinter will also attract birds. Coneflowers are notably tough native plants and 'Magnus' is no exception, withstanding drought, clay, humidity and harsh winter conditions without complaint. Easy to grow, this plant is a great choice for beginner and experienced gardeners alike. (Echinacea purpurea)
  5. Feather Reed Grass Karl Foerster, Calamagrostis acutiflora

    'Karl Foerster' Feather Reed Grass creates a dramatic garden accent, with tall, slender, vertical growth and feathery plumes of shifting bronze color that stay in place year-round. A...

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    Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass Calamagrostis x acutiflora Karl Foerster
    As low as $12.65 Sale $11.39
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    'Karl Foerster' Feather Reed Grass creates a dramatic garden accent, with tall, slender, vertical growth and feathery plumes of shifting bronze color that stay in place year-round. An early bloomer, 'Karl Foerster' is a cool season grass that grows most rapidly in the spring season and produces notably early blooms. It is a clump-forming decorative grass, with an upward architectural growth habit, making it a dramatic specimen plant in garden or meadow. Torch-like plumes are widely used in dried flower arrangements. This sterile variety does not self-sow, is deer resistant, and notably cold hardy. (Calamagrostis acutiflora)
  6. Winterberry Hardy Shrub Collection

    Our Winterberry Hardy Shrub Collection ensures a stunning display of brilliant red berries each year! Southern Gentleman pollinates the flowers of Winter Red so they can develop into...

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    Winterberry Hardy Shrub Collection Winterberry Hardy Shrub Collection
    $63.99 Sale $49.91
    Per Collection of 4
    Our Winterberry Hardy Shrub Collection ensures a stunning display of brilliant red berries each year! Southern Gentleman pollinates the flowers of Winter Red so they can develop into fruit. These native deciduous hollies have glossy green foliage in spring and summer, and female plants are laden with berries that persist through winter, feeding birds and creating year-round interest. (Ilex verticillata)
  7. Winter Red Winterberry with red berries and visiting birds, Ilex verticillata Winter Red

    Winter Red Winterberry is famed for its signature clusters of festive red berries that persist into winter, providing year-round color and food for birds. This female plant’s small...

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    Winter Red Winterberry Winter Red Winterberry Ilex verticillata Winter Red
    As low as $15.99 Sale $12.79
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Winter Red Winterberry is famed for its signature clusters of festive red berries that persist into winter, providing year-round color and food for birds. This female plant’s small white flowers require pollination from male Southern Gentleman Winterberry plants to produce berries. Plant at least one male for up to 6-10 female plants. In autumn, this native shrub’s glossy green foliage will drop, leaving the stunning berry-studded branches. (Ilex verticillata)
  8. Purple Aster, Aster novi-belgii, New York Aster

    New York Aster, also known as Purple Aster, blooms in clusters of deep-purple, daisy-like flowers with golden centers. Lasting into fall and even withstanding frosts, this native ast...

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    Purple Aster New York Aster Aster novi-belgii
    $13.32 Sale $11.32
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    New York Aster, also known as Purple Aster, blooms in clusters of deep-purple, daisy-like flowers with golden centers. Lasting into fall and even withstanding frosts, this native aster attracts all types of butterflies, birds, and bees to your garden and is a great way to provide nectar to pollinators late in the season. New York Aster is deer resistant and thrives in full sun. (Aster novii-belgii)
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