Backyard Wildlife Habitat Management

first_imgA stone pile in an old fence row is a fascinating detail in a rural landscape.A sunny, springtime day is a good time to go stealthily along your favorite paths andcreep up on a rock pile. Its picturesque, lichen-covered rocks seem to date to antiquity.You may find a chipmunk eating an acorn from his winter store. It’s a good place tofind basking skinks, fence lizards or maybe a blacksnake. Be still — or else they willdisappear into the cracks and crevices.A stone pile is an ideal place of refuge for many a small animal. The Southern piedmontwoods are full of them. They were made when settlers cleared their fields of stones tomake them easier to plow.Now, many of these fields have reverted to woods, but the stone piles are still there,little reminders of the past. They also serve as wildlife habitat.Stone piles also make good backyard wildlife habitat. Last week, I made a stone pile atthe base of a big oak outside our living room window. It’s already a haven for mychipmunks.Why not make a stone pile in your yard? Here’s how.Pick a scenic place you see often. I made a stone pile in a little natural place at thebase of a big oak just outside our living room window.First, dig a basin-shaped hole. Why a hole? This is to make the basement of yourstone-pile apartment building.A basement allows your stone-pile dwellers to go deep below the soil surface to escapehot weather in summer and hibernate in cold weather.How deep? Deeper is better. But in any case, get below the frost line. I made mystone-pile basement about a foot deep.Next, fill the hole with stones. If you’re short of stones, almost any rubble will do– old concrete blocks, broken bricks, chunks of cement your builder left behind. Biggeritems are better because the in-between cracks and crevices will be bigger.Don’t just throw the stuff in. Arrange it. What you’re after is a labyrinth ofpassageways connecting little rooms you have created for your guests.How large should these little passageways be? Make the larger ones big enough to admita golf ball. As you add more material be careful to maintain the passageways so theyconnect to the outside.Save your prettiest rocks for the surface. I like a mixture of large and small, flatand round. To create a natural look, set stones at the edge of the pile about up to theirwaists in the soil. Add some wildflowers for a finishing touch.Where to get stones? Stone stores cater to the landscape trade.Don’t pillage wild places for stones. Landowners won’t like it. They could have youarrested for trespassing and theft if you enter their property to steal their stones.last_img

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