Open Gardens Project – Featuring Coyote Sue & Myk’s Habitat

Site Information: This habitat in Lake Oswego has part sun, shade, and moist soil.

What inspired you to enroll in the Backyard Habitat Certification Program?

Concerned that Chickadees, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers, Juncos, and other native birds were not getting enough bugs to feed their young, we decided to be part of the solution.

How would you describe your habitat?

Backyard Habitat Gold Certified in 2022, this interesting backyard is located in an Oak grove bisected by a small steam. Care was taken to replace invasive species with Sword Ferns, Camas Lily, Snowbelle Mockorange, Cascara, Snowbrush, Oceanspray, Pacific Rhododendron, Salmonberry, Common Snowberry, Camassia Quamash, Oregon Grape, and other native plants. The entire backyard is a pesticide-free zone and a shady oasis for native birds containing birdbaths and feeders. The best part lies at the far end of the yard near the back fence. There is a bark dust path and bench to enjoy.

What are your top three favorite native plants, and why do you love them?

Sword ferns because they grow so well. Also, any flowering plants (Camas Lily, Snowbrush, Snowberries, or Oceanspray) that attract birds, butterflies, bees, and insects.

What changes have you observed as a result of creating habitat?

Removal of invading ivy has allowed other native plants to flourish. See a greater variety of birds (woodpeckers and nuthatches) and more thriving chickadee nests. Even some hawks and owls have visited near sunset. In summer, we hear frogs/toads.

What were the two most significant challenges you encountered while creating habitat, and how did you address them?

Blackberry and ivy vines had grown wild for years–had to get help to remove them without pesticides–we have to stay on top of this! Trying to naturally prevent erosion along streambed without changing the environment. Our area was impacted by the Bretz floods of years ago, thus the ground had LOTS of rocks (hundreds of pounds) which I chose to try to remove as much as possible, breaking a few garden tools in the process. Also, prior owners had predominantly non-native foundation plants and lawn, most of which I have removed.

What resources did you find especially helpful?

Audubon Society of Portland, Backyard Habitat Certification Program (Resources and Technicians), Friends of Tryon Creek, Columbia Land Trust.

How do you enjoy your Backyard Habitat throughout the different seasons? What are its highlights in each season?

Quiet and peaceful backyard in spring and summer–a safe place for birds and small animals with shade trees, shrubs, and flowers in bloom. Beautiful fall foliage. Winter berries, flowing steam, snow on the trees.

What part of your backyard habitat are you most proud of?

Native plants and removal of invasive species. A welcoming place for birds.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about your journey?

I want to attract more butterflies and honey bees. Preserve the environment, native plants, and animals.

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