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August 1, 2013

13 Ways to Create a Humane Backyard

Turn your outdoor space into habitat for wildlife

Every day, more and more wildlife habitat is lost to the spread of development. Give a little back by creating a Humane Backyard.

It doesn't matter whether you have a small apartment balcony, a townhouse with a sliver of ground, a suburban yard, a sprawling corporate property, a place of worship, or a community park. You can make any outdoor space into a safe place for wildlife, people, and pets to coexist. 

To get started, check out our tips below (you might already have some of the basics down). Take the Humane Backyard pledge and in exchange, we'll send you a sign to post in your yard, plus a year's subscription to our member magazine, All Animals.

1. Provide water

Whether it’s winter, summer, or somewhere in between, wild animals need reliable sources of fresh water. It can be as simple as setting up a birdbath, or if you have the room, you can create a small pond.

2. Offer natural food sources

Native plants, bushes, and trees are usually the best foods you can give wildlife. You can also supplement your offerings with birdfeeders, especially in winter.

3. Skip the lawn chemicals

Avoid using chemical-laden fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that can be harmful not only to wildlife but to pets and children, too.

  • Native plants, bushes, and trees are usually the best foods you can give wildlife. Octavian Cantilli/For The HSUS

4. Make your windows bird-safe

If you're attracting birds with food and water, make sure they're not going to be flying into your windows.

5. Shrink your lawn a little

If you can, stop mowing part of your lawn. It’s less work for you (and better habitat for wildlife).

6. Build a brush pile

Turn leaves, tree limbs, and other yard debris into a simple brush pile to provide extra shelter for wild animals.

7. Be a friend to bees

As pollinators, bees are vital to farms and gardens, but their numbers are on the decline. You can help by providing safe, healthy habitat for bees. You can even put up a little bee abode. (And no need to fear bees—leave them alone, and they’ll leave you alone, too.)

8. Put up a bat house

Bats pollinate plants, disperse seeds, and help keep the insect population in check. Return the favor by giving them a safe place to roost.

9. Make your swimming pool safe

Backyard pools can be deadly for wildlife. Take a few precautions to make your pool safer for wild animals.

10. Help out bugs (they’re animals, too)

Insects make up 70 percent of the animal kingdom, and most of them are harmless or even helpful. Attract beneficial insects to your yard, garden, park, place of worship, etc. and look for eco- and animal-friendly approaches to insect control.

11. Keep cats inside

Keep your cat(s) indoors for their own safety as well as that of wildlife.

12. Change with the seasons

Follow our tips for maintaining your humane backyard as you clean up your yard or other outdoor space in fall and spring.

13. Find humane solutions to any wildlife problems

Birds, bats, and squirrels outdoors are great—not so much when they’re living in your attic. We have effective, humane solutions to any wildlife problems you might encounter.

Pledge to create a Humane Backyard.

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