Learn About Plants

…and How They Support Wildlife

(we’re working on this page)


Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal nesting in shrubbery

What is the difference between trees and shrubs?  “Generally, trees are over 20 feet tall and have trunks more than 2 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet about the ground. Shrubs are smaller than trees and often have many small, woody, bark covered stems rising from the base.” [1]

The way we see it, the biggest differences are: 1) shrubs are smaller than trees and easier to plant and prune, 2)  they are usually an under-story to trees and 3) shrubs are usually denser.

Carolina Wrens Nesting

Carolina Wrens nesting in box holly

Shrubs have the same benefits as trees with regard to providing food, shelter and places to hide. In addition, because they are denser and lower, they can provide wildlife corridors and safe harbor to many different kinds of wildlife.

Some birds, e.g. hawks and owls prefer to nest very high up, so trees would be their preference.  Others, such as Northern Cardinals [3] and Carolina Wrens [4], prefer to nest lower and in more of a thicket like shrubs.

And, just like with trees, favor native plants when selecting shrubbery.

Annuals and Perennials

We’re really talking about ‘gardening for wildlife’ here, and there is an unlimited supply of excellent material on this subject.  Here are some things that have helped organize our information gathering:

Decide who you want to attract. aaa

Diversity is good. aaa

Plant for all seasons. aaa

Plant for multi-purpose. aaa

Plant things to be eaten. aaa

Use natives when possible. aaa

Stay away from chemicals. aaa

Ground Cover



[1] National Park Service: Trees and Shrubs
[2] Utah State University Extension Service: What Is a Tree?
[3] Cornell – All About Birds: Northern Cardinal Habitat
[4] Cornell – All About Birds: Carolina Wren Habitat

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