A lot people discourage birds from entering their gardens, but in ours, we roll out the red carpet and throw a party for any bug eating bird that will attend. Birds not only provide awe inspiring entertainment and beauty while they splash and drink from the birdbath, but also are a sustainable solution to garden pests—certain birds can consume up to 1000 insects per day! Sure, we have to cover crops like strawberries and lettuces in mesh but for organic pest control, it’s a small price to pay.
Lizards also get an all access pass in the garden. Living under containers, rocks, and other places where destructive bugs often hide and reproduce—our reptile friends ensure that those insects never crawl out from under the rock where they live (and if they do, lizards will get them out in the open too!). Lizards eat mostly insects, and pose little danger to garden plants.
Under the right circumstances, building a bird and lizard habitat is a great thing to do for your garden. Attracting birds and lizards to the garden is as easy as providing them with food, water, shade, and cover. For example, we have bamboo plants as a backdrop to one of our birdbaths—yellow finches hide in and light on the branches before dropping in for a drink or splash in the water. Almost any plant or shrub that blooms attracts hummingbirds that also enjoy perching on the water bowl to drink. This is important in hot climates like ours where temperatures can linger in the 90s and 100s for weeks and even months at a time, making food and water scarce and putting wildlife under great duress.
Our lizard habitat consists of an old wooden pallet placed on top of cardboard (to keep weeds from growing) with pots of herbs and a water feature resting on top to provide shade. The lizards hide and cool down in the interior of the pallet and feast on bugs breeding there. We’ve also got a few rocks and hay bales lying around, but lizards are adept at finding cover just about anywhere.
Back when our garden began, we were searching for a bird bath and couldn’t find any that fit our preferences or budget and wanted to hold out for the right one rather than buy a cheapie from one of the big box stores. We searched and searched, only to find baths far out of the desired price range. In a pinch, we threw together a little DIY bath that does double duty in providing birds AND lizards a place to drink and cool off.
For the bath, you’ll need a large and preferably deep (1 to 2 inches) pottery drainage dish, a small to medium terracotta or ceramic pot, and another medium to large drainage dish.
Place the larger drainage dish in the desired spot in your garden and place the pot upside down in the center of the dish. Place the other tray on the top of the upside-down pot, fill both dishes with water, and voila—a bird bath on the top and a lizard watering hole on the bottom. (Try to find trays with an interior glaze, because they’re better at holding water.)
This little DIY project is so cheap and easy to make, and even though I have a real bird bath now, the finches and lizards still love congregating here. Assemble this in minutes, pull up a chair, and get ready for a spectacular show in a fabulous venue—your thriving garden.
Tell me it doesn’t make you happy all over as you watch your bird and lizard friends splash and play at your garden pool party—it’s a happy day!