A. Benefits of Habitat Enhancement
- First, effective natural areas have a great deal of
diversity. Diversity of plant life will supply a variety
of food sources, nesting areas and shelters for animals.
Thus, plant variety will produce animal variety.
- Second, areas should have plants which are native and
which are well-suited to the conditions on the site so
that plant communities will thrive and because native
plants are more likely to remain in balance.
- Third, habitat areas should enhance people's
enjoyment of the site. Pedestrian paths permit us to
experience and appreciate the beauty and complexity of
- Lastly, the plan should be able to be implemented
B. Habitat Types
A woods is a complex entity, which in this area typically
contains dozens of plant species and thousands of individual
plants per acre. Characteristic of a natural woods are
plants at all levels from the ground to the tree canopy. It
is very difficult to create a man-made woods with the
abundance and diversity of one made by nature. Fortunately,
in this part of the country when man leaves an area alone it
will naturally become a woods with all its complexity and
beauty. This process is called succession, a term which
refers to the natural progression of land from meadow, to
old field, to young woods, to mature woods. If allowed, each
stage will naturally follow the next, producing a
continually changing landscape. Successional woodlands could
be produced simply by not mowing and waiting. A meadow would
begin to appear within weeks and would progress to a climax
woods decades later.
Woodlands provide important habitat for a wide variety of
animals including many mammals, insects and birds as well as
a wide variety of plants.
Meadows are open areas where the plant community is
characterized by a dominance of wild-flowers and/or grasses.
Under natural circumstances meadows are temporary, giving
way to shrubs, woody plants and trees, finally becoming
woods. However, if mowed only once a year, areas can be
maintained as meadows indefinitely.
A meadow could be established in one of three ways. Each
of the three approaches produces a somewhat different type
Grassy meadows - A meadow dominated by
grasses could be established simply by mowing only annually.
Over time, an increasing number of wildflowers would
naturally invade the meadow.
Perennial wildflower meadow - A second
option which produces more dramatic results where
wildflowers would be more prevalent than in the grassy
meadow requires the area to be plowed once or twice to
destroy the existing turf, followed by seeding with a mix of
perennial wildflower seeds. The seed mix probably should
have some annual wildflowers as well because the annual
flowers do better the first year and tend to be more
Annual wildflower meadow - The most
dramatic, most colorful, and showiest type of meadow is a
field of annual wildflowers. The proper seed mixture will
provide vivid color throughout the entire growing season.
Establishing an annual meadow is done in the same way as for
the perennial meadow. However, plowing and seeding must be
done each spring.
All meadows need to be mowed just once a year in either
late fall or late winter. Fall mowing removes the stalks of
the previous summer's flowers and gives a neat appearance. A
late winter mowing has the advantage of providing good cover
and habitat for animals during the winter. Aside from annual
mowing, meadows require occasional cutting or spraying of
unwanted nuisance plants. Such treatment would be only where
the plant occurs and not over the entire meadow.
A meadow is good habitat for numerous creatures. It
provides good cover for small mammals and many birds. The
many plants, flowers and seeds provide a rich food supply
for animals. For humans, meadows provide an attractive
landscape with constantly changing areas of brightly colored
Areas of Planted Trees and Shrubs
Specified plants are selected because they are
indigenous, attractive, specifically suited to soil
conditions, and provide cover or food for wildlife.
Examples of some native shrubs which are recommended:
Red Osier Dogwood
Swamp White Oak