Planning This Summer’s Backyard Habitat Garden

garden_flower bed backyard habitat garden
My garden on July 28, 2020. The 3×12 feet flower bed on the right side..


The pollinator plants in my backyard habitat garden need rejuvenating. There is not enough blooming in July. I need to add more flowers and shift some plants around. My aim is to focus on one small space at a time. First up is the long (3 feet X 12 feet) raised flower bed on the right. 

Donna's backyard habitat garden.
Donna’s backyard habitat garden.

It is not as if this flower bed doesn’t look good, it does. I just see a few areas I can ’tweak’. The first photo was taken on July 28, 2020. During July, the bed needs a few more plants. The plants I talk about here all bloom in July in my area. 



What Needs to Be Changed?

While looking at photos of the garden beds that I took last year, I can quickly see my problems. There aren’t many flowers blooming or attractive foliage on the left side of the bed.The left side of the bed is dominated by self-seeded Columbine that has finished blooming. It will bloom sporadically again, but right now it is a big dark green bare spot. All the Columbine leaves are the same color, shape, and texture. It isn’t very appealing. 

I start by listing my desires for this small patch of the flower bed. I want something interesting to look at and a different color from the Columbine. I want colorful and light colored flowers in the space. I also want to increase the flowers to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators.

Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans) in Donna's Garden
Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans) in Donna’s Backyard Habitat Garden.


Using What I Have to Attract Hummingbirds

I want to use the plants I already have in my small garden.  I’ll pot up the Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans) that I have been chopping back for the last ten years. It’s in a bad spot, has nothing to climb up, and is way too vigorous a grower to leave in the ground. The Trumpet Creeper is a beautiful plant with orange trumpet shaped flowers which attracts hummingbirds. It thrives in any soil.

I’ll place the pot with the Trumpet Creeper in front of one of the trellises on the left side of the flower bed. By placing window screen in the pot covering the drain holes, I want to stop the Trumpet Creeper roots from spreading in the bed. The container should hopefully help me contain the plant’s vigorous growth habits. If this doesn’t work, a can remove the pot and try something else. 


botanical interests_bee_plants
Bee plants from Botanical Interests Seeds.

Adding Pollinator Flowers to My Backyard Habitat Garden

Next I’ll divide and transplant a section of the Common Sage (Salvia officinalis) from the culinary herb section to the raised bed to break up the sameness of the Columbine leaves. If I let the piece in the raised bed flower and I’ll get spikes of lavender flowers that bees and pollinating flies love.

I’ll be growing Borage (seeds from Botanical Interests) this spring. Bees and pollinating flies love Borage. I plan on two or three pots for my small backyard garden.

Purple Coneflower ‘White Swan’ cultivar is another seed packet I bought to start this spring. Or really this winter, as I have to start this flower in January if I’d like flowers this growing season. Otherwise, I have to wait until next years for blossoms. White Swan is available from Botanical Interests.


Don’t Miss This Important Point

The last flowers to add will be small pots of low-growing annuals to attract low-flying butterflies like Blues and Skippers. That is a point we habitat gardeners often miss, that we need both tall-growing and low-growing plants to attract both high-fling and low-flying butterflies and other insects.

butterfly_tiger swallowtail
Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on Zinnias.

I like growing small pots of annuals that I can plug in to bare spots in the garden, They also add interest for the entire growing season. When the perennials in an area have finished blooming.

Flat-top annuals like Zinnias (of various heights) for the butterflies. And Salvias and marigolds for the bees and pollinating flies.

donna's backyard habitat garden
Donna L. Long’s backyard habitat garden. Both beds are 3×12 feet long.

Small Backyard Habitat Gardens Can Be Beautiful

The small size of my backyard habitat garden makes it manageable. I just don’t like big gardens. When I started gardening by myself about thirty years ago (yikes!), I didn’t understand how important size was in creating a successful garden that I would be happy with and not feel overwhelmed. Now I know that even if I had a large space, I would divide into small garden ‘rooms’.

Botanical Interests Flat Top Butterfly Flowers.

Where I Get My Plant Seeds

If you haven’t tried Botanical Interests seeds, I hope you try them. I have been using them for over ten years. When I saw on their website they had an affiliate program I was thrilled. I applied and was accepted to their program. This means if you use the links on my website to take you to their website and purchase seeds from Botanical Interests, I earn a small commission to help pay for this website and my time in writing it. And it doesn’t cost you a thing! Botanical Interest pays me from what it earns and doesn’t charge you. 

Botanical Interests helped to grow my happy place.


Planning for Spring

So, far these are my plans for my backyard habitat garden. The joy I receive just sitting and watching all the activity has brought me so much joy.

My garden has been my sanctuary this past year and long before. I am writing a guide to help my readers design and plant or improve their own backyard habitat gardens. Look for it this March.

What are your plans or questions for the upcoming growing and habitat season? Send your comments and questions in the comments below.

Donna's signature


See These Related Posts

My Community Garden Plot

My Community Garden Plot This Summer.

Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans L.)

Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis L.)

Observing Butterflies At Home and Far Away

Identifying Common Butterflies – A Photo Gallery

Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and Pollinators 


  1. Donna, your offerings are a really amazing combination of the the science, the art, and the spirit of our connection to nature. Keep ’em coming!

    • Such kind words. Thank you so much. The time I spent doing habitat restoration with WRV deepened my understanding of invasive species and the importance of native plants. Thanks to Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers for providing the opportunities to help heal the Earth. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this very informative post. I was interested to see that you grow many of your plants in pots. I don’t have a garden and have to grow in pots; I am not very successful at it. I made a resolution this New Year to make my garden more wildlife friendly and this post has been an inspiration for me.

    • Hi, Anne – Thanks for your comment. This is the second year I’ve taken growing in pots seriously. I’m still learning. Here are some items that helped me. The links are affiliate links.

      What has been a game changer for me has been actually using the Soil pH Moisture meter I bought years ago. Now I no longer overwater. If that is also one of your problems here is a meter like mine on

      I also have improved after after reading The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible by Edward Smith and Sunset Books Container Gardening. A book I read last month was The Gardener’s Guide to Compact Plants by Jessica Walliser was also I big help. The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell just arrive the other day. It is one of my favorite books to show the possibilities for container gardening.

      I bet with a little more experience you can create a fabulous container garden. I look forward to one day seeing some photos. Good luck and Happy New Year.

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