Attracting Wild Animals for the Good of the Garden: Which, Why, and How

A colony of bats in a mango tree

Permaculture designs, especially on a large-scale, incorporate domesticated animals. For organic gardening, it just makes life a lot easier. Manure is key in growing anything. A timed circulation of grazing means the land gets cleared, fertilized and tilled by the animals’ natural patterns as opposed to the farmer’s sweat. Then, at some point, animals equate to food. The efficiency and logic are there and simple, but domesticated animals aren’t always a possibility. There are housing restrictions, acreage issues, and even dietary choices to contend with; however, that doesn’t mean a garden should or needs to be without animals.

Wild animals are wildly beneficial for gardens, from pollination to bug control to guano — not to mention that free roaming animals are how nature and eco-systems work, so laying out the welcome mat for wild animals is part of any good permaculture design. While they often receive bad press — the leaf-eating insects, vegetable-robbing rodents, and so on — wild animals do have their gardening superstars as well, and creating habitats for them can be really fun and funky while providing your garden with a free workforce of thousands. It’s all about pinpointing just exactly who the good characters are and how to get them to hang around.

Project #1: The frog pond