At a Community Garden

Photo © Delaware Cooperative Extension

It Takes a Community

Any land tended by a group of people can be a community garden, whether you want to grow veggies, herbs, or flowers. By joining a community garden, you’ll find other people who have ideas, inspiration, and solutions to share! You don’t have to be an experienced gardener to join; in fact, even children can get involved. Community gardening has been linked to greater feelings of neighborhood attachment and community pride 1, so use your plot to beautify the neighborhood and benefit birds. From asparagus to zucchini (or from astilbes to zinnias, if flowers are your thing), there are small steps you can take to promote birds in your local community garden.

Grow a Sense of Community

Public gardens are wonderful for urban greening and neighborhood improvement.

Photo © T*C*W*

Plot Your Spot

Already grabbed your spot in a local community garden? You can map an entire community garden collaboratively, or an individual plot, with Habitat Network. Share the bird-friendly practices you’re already doing (like composting, water conservation, or organic practices) and learn about other actions that could help your garden host more birds. Remember, self-sufficiency isn’t just for humans. Growing your own dinner is great, so why not grow some sustainable food just for the birds, too. Plant a fruiting shrub or an oak tree around your garden to welcome the birds with bounty, or maintain a plot as a butterfly garden. Why not install a nesting box for insect-eating wrens and chickadees? Collectively maintaining a brush pile or a small patch of trees near the garden will provide much-needed shelter for birds to escape to when they feel threatened.

Why can't weed be friends?

A Savannah Sparrow appreciates a weedy corner of this community garden in central New York.

Photo © Kevin J. McGowan

Be Discerning

Simply identifying garden pests and learning their life cycles will go a long way towards attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies to your garden (and, in turn, birds). Using safer pesticide alternatives will keep your spot free of toxins and make the garden safer for kids, garden neighbors, birds, and desirable insects. Be judicious in your application of pesticides, and always start with the least toxic option first. Choose bird netting to keep birds away from your fruit crops. With small plots, hand-picking pests and manual weeding is a more manageable task. For larger pests like deer or rabbits, try a tip from the Celebrate Urban Birds staff. Marta del Campo suggests letting weeds grow up around your plots so that they’re tall enough to disguise the tasty food you’re growing. Your crops will be less visible to deer and rabbits, and the yield is not significantly impacted.

If you can be a resource for new gardeners, try giving a live demonstration on toxin-free gardening, talk with others about the birds using your garden, or host a native plant sale. Research suggests that connecting longer-term residents with newcomers may promote neighborhood attachment 2.