DIY ProjectsLandscaping & Yard Care

Creating a Backyard Bird Sanctuary

It’s not worth having a garden if you don’t also have birds. And it is possible to create a bird haven using old items from around the house.

A couple of years ago my husband and I created our bird sanctuary. It is wonderful to sit in front of the big picture window, sip our coffee and watch our bird visitors come by for food or a drink and splash in the bird bath. With careful planting of select flowers, grass and vines, you can attract backyard birds too.

We had an old clothes line in the back yard and the metal posts were quite substantial. We cut the posts off and repositioned them in concrete, to another area of the yard that prime viewing from inside the house. We then had an iron ladder made from an old hand rail.  We secured this to the top of the posts and it worked perfectly. 

The tall cedar branches that I had kept from many years ago helped camouflage the posts on each end and they also make good perching material for the smaller birds. On each end of the posts, where the cedar branches are secured with wire, I planted morning glory vines. I only had to do this once, as they are prolific self-seeders. The morning glories climb up the cedar branches and their large heart shaped leaves make the bare branches look like trees with pretty flowers in bloom. 

On the ladder I hang several potted plants and flowers and suspend several bird feeders too. The bird feeders should not hang too low because birds won’t use them if they feel threatened from predators. So keep them high enough that the birds feel safe while feeding.

This year I planted hummingbird vine at the base of the posts. This will take several years grow, but eventually it should grow all the way across the top of the ladder, providing more security for the birds, plus added protection from rain.

Tips on creating your own bird feeding station:

  1. Try not to plant anything directly under the ladder. Birds are messy eaters, and much of the bird seed will fall to the ground and sprout. The first year I found myself fighting this, pulling up seedlings from the bird seed. I gave up! Now I keep it clear with nothing but mulch underneath and occasionally I just rake it out.
  2. Try using a metal or wood ladder, securing it to the posts with sturdy wire. If it is wood, paint it to protect it from the elements. I chose to paint with browns and greens because I wanted it to blend into the landscape and not stand out.
  3. Other materials that work well include old hog wire, chicken wire, and even expandable clothes drying pegs.
  4. Plant flowers that birds like. These include the sunflower, Mexican sunflower, coneflower, cotoneaster, holly, cosmos, zinnia, beauty berry. I have crabapple nearby and a dogwood. These are all favorites of birds. So, with seed you set out and flowers in the yard, you’re assured of regular visitors.

By hanging different types of bird feeders and suet, we’ve been fortunate to attract cardinals, doves, chickadees, house finch, robins, catbird, hummingbirds, dark-eyed juncos, wrens and more.

They are delightful to watch. We have a Kansas bird book sitting on the nearby table; color-coded tabs help identify new bird visitors. I’d also recommend a journal so you can jot down remarks when you have special visitors.

Becky Miller has been a passionate gardener for over twenty-five years, and has two greenhouses.  You can follow her adventures of incorporating edibles in her flowerbeds, and creating an old-fashioned cottage garden at her historic home in Wichita, Kansas at

Related Articles & Free Email Newsletter

Bring in the Birds with These Plants

Growing Strawberries Is Not Just For the Birds

Support Native Bees and Enjoy the Many Benefits

Subscribe to our Free Email Newsletter

Comment here