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Habitat

Tennessee is blessed with a diverse geography and topography, resulting in a wide variety of vegetation and habitats, some native and protected and others managed for agricultural products or timber.

Wildlife watching, hunting and fishing are popular past-times, and wildlife abundance is largely dependent upon available habitat and how it is managed. Clean streams, wetlands and ponds provide habitat for aquatic species and other wildlife. Habitats can be managed to encourage and increase populations of some species or can be managed to discourage others. There are many resource professionals available to contact for advice on managing habitats.

Many people live in urban areas and simply enjoy attracting birds, mammals and insect pollinators to their backyards. There is an abundance of information available to plan and plant small areas, and build and place nest boxes and feeders.

Sometimes wildlife can cause problems, such as depredation on crops, gardens or shrubs, or may cause damage to homes or otherwise pose a nuisance. The TWRA permits Animal Control Operators that can be hired to control wildlife pest problems, and the U.S.D.A.-Wildlife Services may be available to help control protected wildlife and selected other species. Local TWRA officers can issue control permits to farmers experiencing crop depredation problems.

Backyard Basics

Wildscaping - Landscaping For Wildlife With Native Plants

Wildscaping makes it possible to create attractive, low maintenance habitat needed to support a diversity of wildlife species in urban and residential settings. Such landscaping assures that wildlife have the space in which to raise their young and places to hide from predators. It may involve converting unused areas of lawns and gardens or creating tree and shrub borders. Simply leaving some grassy areas untouched can provide wildlife with necessary food and cover.

People want to attract wildlife to their yards for a variety of reasons, but most important is that birds and other animals bring us pleasure. The cheerful songs of cardinals and mockingbirds, the playful antics of young squirrels at feeders and the sight of colorful butterflies fluttering above wildflower meadows provide us with a joy that cannot be measured.

Wildlife can assist humans by controlling insects and other pests. They also give us a glimpse of natural beauty, such as a red-headed woodpecker washing itself at a birdbath. We experience the complex diversity of nature first hand when we live close to nature.

Bulldozers and backhoes are eliminating the living spaces of many wild creatures in our increasingly changing environment. It is especially critical to preserve native wildlife and plants in our cities, towns and suburbs. We need to maintain that important link between people and wildlife and restore the sense of stewardship we once had for the land. Unfortunately, with more than 75 percent of the nation's population now living in urban areas, the fastest growing habitat is concrete and asphalt.

It is simple to attract wildlife to your yard by providing four basic requirements: food, water, cover, and space. Native plants play an important role in providing these requirements because a well planned landscape can create the habitat that wildlife need for food, rest, raising young, and finding protection from predators and the weather. The more diverse the landscape, the better. A landscape with many plant species supports an abundance of wildlife. Many more wildlife species will visit a small or average-sized yard with a high diversity of habitat than a yard with a large, mowed area.

Managing yards for wildlife also benefits people in a variety of ways. Diverse landscapes are less likely to attract insect and rodent pests and are more likely to encourage insect eating predators. This reduces the costs associated with insecticides and extermination services. Yards offering a diversity of native plant species will have fewer disease problems and need less maintenance than a lawn that must be mowed and watered. When you add plants to an area you help control erosion and stabilize the habitat while providing food for wildlife.

Wildscaping is a habitat restoration and conservation plan for rural and urban areas. As Tennessee's population increases, more green space is consumed for human needs driving animals and birds out of the habitat they need for survival. Small suburban lots, townhouse developments, city parks and even highway roadsides can be managed with wildlife in mind.

If we begin with the simple, yet pleasant task of bringing wildlife closer to home, we will set a precedent to manage for wildlife on a larger scale. You can make habitat improvements that will benefit your wildlife neighbors no matter where you live in Tennessee,.

You can enjoy and understand the role wildlife plays in your community by inviting wildlife to seek refuge on your property. Attract wildlife by planting trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses. It helps our wildlife, and it's fun!

Wildscaping provides the essential living requirements for a variety of wildlife. This is accomplished by planting and maintaining native vegetation, installing artificial houses and ponds, and creating structure. Feeding birds and other wildlife can supplement native vegetation, but can never replace it. The goal is to provide places for wildlife to feed, drink, escape from predators, and raise their young.

It is important not to ignore local laws or homeowners agreements when wildscaping. Some towns and cities in Tennessee have “Weed Laws” so be certain to comply with your local ordinances.

Using native plants will attract a variety of wildlife. Hummingbirds, for example, are attracted to tubular flowers like native honeysuckle and cardinal flower. You can also attract songbirds to feed on mulberry, hackberry, or black cherry trees.

Wildscaping in Tennessee is more than a backyard program and can be used to enhance all types of landscapes. Parks, churches, schools, and even apartments and nursing homes can become involved.

You can do more than just attract birds. Every species has its own specific habitat requirements and chances are good that whatever you desire; butterflies, frogs, or even lizards will be sharing your WILDSCAPE!

Publications

Management of Habitats

Habitats – where animals live – in terms of both in quantity and quality, are the primary key to wildlife abundance. Man’s activities or lack thereof impact habitats in a variety of ways, and can be negative, positive or neutral in their impacts to wildlife. Activities that alter habitats can be beneficial to some wildlife species but negatively affect others.

General habitat categories include forests and woodlands, wetlands, croplands, grasslands, and aquatic habitats. A single landowner might have only one or two habitat types on their land, while others might have all. Land may be used primarily for agriculture or timber income, and other land might be used primarily for recreation. Any of these lands can potentially be managed to benefit wildlife and possibly even increase farm or forest income.

Native Warm-Season Grasses

Native warm-season grasses (nwsg) are grasses historically native to an area that grow during the warm months of the year and are dormant during autumn and winter. They differ from cool-season grasses, which make their active growth during spring and fall.

There are many warm-season grasses native to the Mid-South region; however, seven species are most commonly promoted as cover for wildlife and/or forage for livestock. These are big bluestem, little bluestem, broomsedge bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, sideoats grama and eastern gamagrass. Not all of these, however, have the same quality for wildlife habitat or livestock forage. For example, broomsedge offers excellent nesting habitat for bobwhites, but poor forage for livestock.

Native warm-season grasses provide many benefits when used and managed properly. These include wildlife habitat, agricultural forage for hay and pasture, vegetation to filter sediment and pesticides where crop fields border are adjacent to waterways, excellent soil erosion control once established, and ornamental landscaping. Denser strands of 1-3 grass species are typically used for forage, but sparser strands with wider variety of native grasses plus wildflowers and forbs provide much better wildlife habitat.

These native grasses are often directly planted, using either specific broadcast methods or by use of a specialized no-till native grass drill. However, particularly when wildlife habitat is the primary goal, native grasses and associated broadleaf plant communities can often be established simply through eliminating and/or managing the current vegetation to take advantage of the existing seed bank present in the soil.

 

 

Native Warm-Season Grass Seed Growers & Suppliers

Bamert Seed Company
1897 County Road 1018
Muleshoe, TX 79347
(800) 262-9892
www.bamertseed.com
Email: natives@bamertseed.com 
Adams-Briscoe Seed Co.
P.O. Box 19
325 East Second Street
Jackson, GA 30233
(770) 775-7826
www.abseed.com
Easyliving Wildflowers
P.O. Box 522
Willow Springs, MO 65793
(417) 469-2611
www.easywildflowers.com
Email: john@easywildflowers.com

 

Applewood Seed Co.
5381 Vivian Street
Arvada, CO 80002
303-431-7333
www.applewoodseed.com

Ernst Conservation Seeds
9006 Mercer Pike
Meadville, PA 16335
(800) 873-3321
www.ernstseed.com
Email: sales@ernstseed.com 
C.P. Daniel’s Sons Inc.
P.O. Box 119
Waynesboro, GA 30830
(800) 822-5681
(706) 554-2446
Habitat Native Plant Nursery, LLC 
P.O. Box 265
Silver Grove, KY 41085
(859) 442-9414
www.habitatsnursery.org
Email: native@habitatnursery.org
Carl R. Gurley, Inc.
P.O. Box 995
Princeton, NC 27569
(919) 936-5121
Hamilton Native Outpost
16786 Brown Road
Elk Creek, MO 65464
(888) 967-2190
www.hamiltonseed.com
Email: natives@hamiltonnativeoutpost.com
The Hogan Company
3628 Kelton Jackson Road
P.O. Box 4000
Springfield, TN 37172
1-888-224-6426
www.thehogancompany.us
Ion Exchange, Inc.
1878 Old Mission Drive
Harpers Ferry IA 52146
(800) 291-2143
www.ionxchange.com
Email: hbright@acegroup.cc 
Pennington Game Food Seed
P.O. Box 192
Madison, GA 30850
(706) 342-1234
www.penningtonseed.com
Iowa Prairie Seed Company 
911 Elm Street
Story City, IA 50248
(515) 733-4634
www.iowaprairieseed.com
Email: rbbun@iowatelecom.com 
Seeds, Inc.
2435 Harbor
Riverside Station
Memphis, TN 38113
(800) 238-6440
(901) 775-2345
Missouri Wildflowers Nursery 
9814 Pleasant Hill Rd.
Jefferson City, MO 65109
(573) 496-3492
www.mowildflowers.net
Email: mowldflrs@socet.net
Spandle Nurseries
RFD#2, Box 125
Claxton, GA 30417
(800) 553-5771
Native American Seed
3791 N. U.S. Hwy. 377
Junction TX 76849
(800) 728-4043
www.seedsource.com
Email: info@seedsource.com 
Star Seed, Inc.
P.O. Box 228
101 Industrial Ave.
Osborne, KS 67473
(800) 782-7311
http://gostarseed.com
Ohio Prairie Nursery
P.O. Box 174
Hiram, OH 44234
(330) 569-3380
www.ohioprairienursery.com
Email: info@ohioprairienursery.com 

Tennessee Farmers Co-op
200 Waldron Road
P.O. Box 3003
LaVergne, TN 37086-1983
(615) 793-8400
www.ourcoop.com
Prairie Moon Nursery
32115 Prairie Lane
Winona, MN 55987
(800) 417-8156
www.prairiemoon.com
Email: info@prairiemoon.com
Turner Seed
P.O. Box 739
LaVergne, TN 37086
(615) 641-7333
Prairie Nursery, Inc.
P.O. Box 306
Westfield, WI 53964
(800) 476-9453
www.prairienursery.com/store
Email: cs@prairienursery.com 
Wildlife Management Solutions, LLC
P.O. Box 89
Athens, IL 62613
(217) 632-9914
Roundstone Native Seed LLC
9764 Raider Hollow Road
Upton, KY 42784
(270) 531-3034
www.roundstoneseed.com
Email: sales@roundstoneseed.com
Wildscapes, LLC
2238 Stringer lane
Mt. Washington, KY 40047
(502) 492-1873
Sharp Brothers Seed Co.
P.O. Box 140
Healey, KS 67850
(800) 462-8583
www.buffalobrandseed.com
Email: buffalo@sharpseed.com 
Spence Restoration Nursery 
2220 East Fuson Road
Muncie, IN 47302
(765) 286-7154
www.spencenursery.com
Email: kenvin@spencenursery.com
Stock Seed Farms
28008 Mill Road
Murdock, NE 68407
(800) 759-1520
www.stockseed.com
Email: prairie@stockseed.com
Turner Seed Co.
211 County Road 151
Breckenridge, TX 76424
(800) 722-8616
www.turnerseed.com
Email: turnerseed@turnerseed.com
Your local state farmers co-op, Southern States Co-op, farm supply outlet, or other seed vendors may be also able to provide you with native grass seed or to locate other sources. Buyers are urged caution to compare seed quality (germination, purity rates, percent inert material) when shopping among vendors. Inclusion on this list does not entail endorsement, nor is any discrimination intended by omission from this list of known growers and supplier.

Important Notice of Ginseng Harvest Season Law Change (TCA 70-8-203)

Effective July 1, 2012 the harvest season for wild ginseng shall be from September 1 - December 31, inclusive, of each year. For additional information contact the Department of Environment and Conservation, (615) 532-0431.

Private Lands Management & Assistance