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Backyard Nature Notes: How to Create a Magical Backyard Environment

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How to create a magical backyard

 

Our backyard, in the spring, is a magical land. We have lighting bugs, butterflies, hummingbirds, all manner of bird, and deer.

Sometimes we see a bald eagle soaring over our house. And the field behind our house must house all species of creature because the sounds coming from it at night? Are worthy of a meditation recording.

I like to keep our windows open because that is the kind “white noise” that makes me feel secure in this world.

 

[View from our bedroom]

 

Before we moved to the country, I had seen hummingbirds maybe three times in my entire life.

Now I see them every three minutes in the summer.

The novelty has not worn off. I still get excited when I see one or hear one. They make a little buzzing purr noise when they fly in. (But they’re really hard to capture on camera).

Our backyard is the epitome of abundance.

 

 

It’s just full of life and rarity. I just want to bottle it up. But alas, instead of bottling it up (impossible!), I just keep inviting it in (way possible!). And I want to show you how to invite these beauties into your yard too, possibly even in the city.

(Actually, you can bottle some of it😉

Hummingbirds

To attract hummingbirds, all you need to do is set up a simple $2 hummingbird feeder. And don’t bother buying the red colored food they sell. That is completely unnecessary and can, in fact, burn their tiny little fragile beaks. Some might argue that the red color of the food is required to attract the hummingbirds. Hogwash! All you need is the red on the feeder itself to attract the little fairy birds.

Our abundance of hummingbirds is proof.

As for the food? Everything you need is in your kitchen.

Just boil 4 parts water and then dissolve 1 part sugar in it. So, you could boil 4 cups of water and dissolve 1 cup of sugar in it. Oh, and make sure you use purified water. Again, they’re tiny fragile birds. Try not to poison them.

We also happen to have a bush in our yard that the hummingbirds particularly love. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s their favorite. You could easily do a little searching online if you want to plant any hummingbird-friendly flora.

Butterflies

We get butterflies in our backyard simply by having dandelions, it’s that easy. Pretty much any flower will do. But there are some things you can do to make butterflies love your yard even more. One thing we did was add a sugar bowl. A really pretty one. I put the same mixture in here, on a sponge, as I use for the hummingbirds.

You can also plant butterfly flowers and other butterfly-friendly blooms. The field behind our house happens to be full of milkweed, which is a Monarch caterpillar’s favorite food.

 

[My pretty glass sugar bowl]

[Milkweed galore!]

[Milkweed and butterflies!]

 

The butterflies are probably my favorite. Last year we found so many butterfly wings (Monarchs only live 2-6 weeks). We recycled the wings into beautiful necklaces (DIY them!) so their magic could live on.

 

Birds

All you have to do to enjoy a rainbow of beautiful birds is put up a bird feeder.

I would suggest you find one that makes you happy to look at and putting it up in a window you like to look out. Then, I would suggest keeping a camera nearby.

 

These bird feeders were a bit more expensive than the basic plastic ones, but they make me happy to look at. I also found a really whimsical one for the front yard that just makes my heart skip a beat.

 

I had seen this bird feeder once before at a sale we had at work. I put it back but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so much so that I added it to my personal little “wishlist” in the back of my notebook. When the sale came back months later, they had one again! I bought it without even thinking. That’s one of those purchases that you just know is right.

I couldn’t wait for spring to be able to put this up. It sparkles in the light and gives our front tree that bit of whimsy that is enough to uplift the spirits. When I saw the first bird sitting inside, I actually giggled.

Then, simply go to almost any regular store and choose bird seed for songbirds. Or whatever type of bird you prefer. We chose songbirds, because why wouldn’t we? If we can be serenaded by those melodies every day?

Deer

Living in the country, it’s not very hard to see deer every day just by default. But in order to entice them into our own yard even more, we put out corn (it brings in more birds too). There’s a DNR rule out here about how much you can put out (because of baiting deer for hunting), so we keep it around a gallon.

Lightning Bugs

This one is just left to chance. We have a lot of marshy area around our house that seems to be the perfect environment for them. In the spring, it’s like a dream out there in our backyard. They blink and twinkle all through the field behind our house and it’s just mesmerizing. We all feel like kids with wide eyes and dropped jaws.

Also, shooting stars

Being far away from the city lights makes the expanse of sky much more accessible to us. The sky looks like a navy blue blanket with a bunch of bright dots on it. It’s velvet and expansive and beautiful!

Shooting stars aren’t an everyday thing, for sure. But you can be intentional about finding them. First, I would suggest looking up the dates for the annual meteor showers, the Perseids and the Leonids. Then, write them in your calendar and make sure to get outside on those nights. The Perseids happen in about mid-August, and I’ve created a tradition with my kids to have an annual Perseid picnic which I’ve posted about a few times here, here and here.

Since it’s warm and summer vacation in August, it’s the perfect time to stay up really late and lie in the grass watching the sky. The excitement you hear in a child’s voice when they see their first shooting star will fill your magic stores for awhile.

Medicinal Plants

When you grow plants that can actually heal ailments? You feel boss.

I’m not really much of an herbalist, but I do grow a few. Lemon balm is easy to grow and prolific! I used it to make a lemon balm tincture for anxiety. In fact, my entire plan for planting last year was for anxiety. Check out my anti-anxiety garden post. Then find out how to make your own lemon balm tincture.

We also keep aloe vera on the windowsill. I love having a few things within arm’s reach to relieve burns, scratches, and nerves. I feel like a little apothecary.

Healing plants seem like magic.

Whimsy

Now, in addition to the actual creature-attracting stuff, you can also make your yard feel more magical by adding elements of whimsy. Butterfly nets, chimes, fairy gardens, ornaments, and bird feeders. Maybe some yarn bombs for your trees.

I’m starting to collect things to make something like this. Making a wind chime out of repurposed metal stuff:

Source

Also, bring some of that amazing goodness inside! We put the nest and feathers from above into a shadow box from Hobby Lobby. We also have a lot of stick and nature art in our house.

Make a pinch bouquet or bring some flowers inside.

Bring some moss inside a little terrarium. Then decorate with plastic animals. Hehe. So cute.

Know what else makes it magical?

Learning as much as you can about what’s out there in the nature world.

What I mean by that is, read, study, pick up field guides, and learn everything you can about clouds, animal tracks, ecosystems, etc.

Each time we learn more about the habits of a particular bird or what the purpose of a particular bug is or guess what’s in these underground burrows, our backyard seems to come even more to life.

Each time we learn more…our backyard seems to come even more to life!

I’ve been collecting books so I can read more about what I’m seeing. It really helps bring everything to life for me. The more you can identify and understand about nature, the more fascinating it becomes. It’s like you can see little traces of God all around you and all the miracles He put into place.

Here are a few books from my own shelf that I recommend. I just bought these from Amazon and am LOVING them!

*This part contains affiliate links, at no additional cost to you.

NATURE BOOKS

 

This is a great book to have on-hand for kids. It teaches about different facets of nature. It has really great layouts and pictures. If you click on this picture, you can “look inside” the book.

 

How fascinating is it to learn the psychology of being in nature. Every time I learn more about the effects of nature on mood and mental health, I am fascinated. I make it a point to get outside every day for this very reason.

 

Since I live in the Midwest, I decided to pick up a field guide that covers everything at once: animal tracks, birds, wildflowers, trees, everything! I’m trying to learn as much about the birds that we keep seeing on the bird feeders as possible.

 

I also printed off this poster from NASA and I keep it on my fridge so my son and I can try to guess what types of clouds we’re seeing outside.
I don’t know all the names of the birds that land on our bird feeder or the trees that surround us in this land, but I’m learning them slowly. There’s a thrill I feel when I can name a bird simply by hearing its call or seeing its coloring. We’re starting to learn cloud types and wildflowers and all manner of creature:

It’s like learning the name of someone that comes into your store regularly. There’s a deepening connection there, a friendliness, a kinship. It makes me feel closer to the Earth and all that God put into place.

 

I hope this post will help you look at your backyard a little bit differently and inspire you to cultivate an extra sprinkle of magic wherever you live. Because seriously, when you get to see butterflies, hummingbirds, blue jays, and lightning bugs all in the same day, your spirit will be lifted.

~Better Every Day

 

How about you?

What magical things have you seen in your backyard? Do you purposefully try to bring beauty into your backyard?

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