Planting Native Species
If there is one thing you as a landowner – urban, suburban, or rural – can do to make Ottawa a livable city for wildlife it’s planting native species of trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants. By favouring native plants over aliens in the urban, suburban and rural landscape, gardeners can do much to sustain biodiversity. Native plants support and produce more insects than alien plants and in turn feed more numbers and species of other animals. Alien plants in our gardens are often so non-nutritious to the other members of the garden community that they might as well not be there at all.
There are many excellent resources to help you select plants for your Ottawa area garden:
- Rideau Valley Conservation Authority – offers a comprehensive set of downloadable documents about forestry including extension notes on individual tree species and naturalizing your park and backyard.
- City of Ottawa Native Plants – provides some local sources for plants, information links, and lists of ground covers, wild flowers, shrubs, and trees.
- Fletcher Wildlife Garden – provides extensive lists and information about flowers, ferns, grasses, vines, shrubs, and trees suitable for Eastern Ontario. Run by the Ottawa Field Naturalist Club.
- Planting Trees in Small Spaces (PDF) – a downloadable, two page brochure on suitable species for the Ottawa area, prepared by Daniel Buckles (ChamplainOaks.com).
- The Canadian Wildlife Federation has descriptions of many native species including the native animals that each species supports.
- Ontario Ministry of Environment Tree Atlas – provides an interactive map that lists trees suitable by selected region.
- Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens, by Douglas W. Tallamy – An entomologist at the University of Delaware, Dr. Tallamy describes the importance of native species to providing food for native insects, which in turn feed many native animals higher up the food chain: birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and humans! Although written for the mid-Atlantic US, the principles of biodiversity are the same and much of the plant and insect information is relevant to the Ottawa area. The Ottawa Public Library has a copy of this book.
- Check out Dr. Tallamy’s many lectures on YouTube. Here is his Plant Natives 2015 presentation.
- Shrubs For Wildlife (PDF) brochure.
- Trees Canadensis – a local resource about our native trees and where to see them in natural areas.
- Wildlife and a Liveable City (PDF) – Our 2015 presentation about how you can make a difference in your garden.
Programs for Planting Trees in Ottawa
The City of Ottawa has a number of tree planting programs available to assist homeowners, schools and community groups with the planting of native trees and shrubs.
- Commemorative Trees – find out how to dedicate the planting of a tree to a loved one.
- Parks and Streetscape Tree Planting – Suggest a location to plant a tree.
- Trees in Trust – Find out how to have a tree planted in front of your home.
- Green Acres: Ottawa’s Rural Reforest Program – Offers technical and financial assistance to rural land owners for planning, planting and maintenance of small woodland areas.
- Schoolyard Tree Planting Grant Program – The mandate of the Schoolyard Tree Planting Grant Program is to improve and enhance Ottawa’s existing urban and rural forest cover by creating partnerships with the community for tree planting initiatives in schoolyards.
Building and Installing Bat Boxes
Bats are significant consumers of night-flying insects like mosquitos, but their habitat is in decline. Providing bats with a roosting site near your home can offer these desirable predators a safe place to rest and reproduce. Correct placement of a bat box is critical for success. For landowners who received OSC-built bat boxes or who want to make their own box we recommend the Fletcher Wildlife Garden publication, but there are also three web sites with information on the construction and placement of the boxes.
- Fletcher Wildlife Garden: How to Attract Bats to Your Yard (PDF)
- Toronto Zoo Bat Box Program
- Canadian Wildlife Federation
- Bat Conservation International
Protecting Your Well
Protect Your Well (PDF) brochure