How Turn Your Backyard Into A Winter Refuge


If you lived in any part of the USA that experienced cold this past winter, then you know what a spectacularly wretched experience it was. It seemed to be a never-ending barrage of ice and snow, which hung around forever courtesy of the relentless cold that seemed to never let the temperatures go above freezing.

It was so bad that, up here in New England, we saw Boston’s last snow pile vanish on July 15th. Yes, you see that right: mid-July!

Now, no one knows whether or not this past winter was simply a brutal aberration or if it’s a sign of what we can expect from now on. For those of us who wonder how animals fare in such weather and want to make sure that they’re provided for going forward, there’s the option of making your backyard a haven from the elements.

Some Animal-Friendly Ideas

Consider the following when you’re turning your yard into a winter refuge.

Bee Boxes and Bat Houses. You can purchase actual little structures to benefit these creatures and help them survive the winter.

Water Sources. Even something as simple as a birdbath can be of great help to wildlife. After all, winter temperatures have enough fluctuation that standing water can be found.

Brush Piles. Perhaps you have a load of brush gathered together from your fall cleanup. Rather than get rid of it right away, why not place it somewhere on the edge of your property for the winter so that animals can use it for shelter? Then when spring comes, the animals go away, and then you can haul the brush away.

Bird Houses/Feeders. This is an obvious one, but it bears mentioning anyway. Birds need food and shelter for the winter, and you can step up and help them out. Just watch out for pesky squirrels.

Mind Your Household Pets. Make sure that your dogs and cats, especially the latter, are kept from wandering unsupervised in the yard, so as not to cause harm (or be harmed) by animals passing through. Pets belong indoors anyway.

Making A Refuge Keeps Animals Away From Your House

You would think that by turning your backyard into a winter haven for animals you would be asking for trouble because you’re attracting them to your property. But the truth is, animals in the winter will always be looking for shelter, no matter if you make arrangements for them or not. It’s inevitable.

But by providing them with an attractive option on your property, you steer them clear of your actual home. All things being equal, animals don’t want to get too close to you and your family anyway; by constructing small easily noticed shelters situated away from the building, they can be comfortable and not bother you a bit.

It Benefits More Than Just Animals

The article “Seeking Shelter: Providing Winter Habitat for Backyard Animals”points out that you can benefit from having animals nearby. They give the example of the bat houses, whose tenants provide you with an excellent way to control mosquito populations without having to spray chemicals everywhere. Granted, that benefit doesn’t manifest itself in the winter, but many of these shelters become year-round propositions, and that’s when they yield dividends.

Also, by creating a natural habit with shelters or planting fauna, you and your family can enjoy the learning experience of watching animals as they go about their daily activities.

By following these suggestions, you can help our animal friends survive a brutal winter, and perhaps get some benefits in the process! If you by any chance do composting and are concerned about these animals getting into it, check out“Hints On Securing Your Compost From Animal Intrusions”.

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