get started in your community

The following simple steps will enable you to create a biodiverse sanctuary filled with butterflies, bees and birdsong.

By making these changes in your garden, you can join the fight against climate change and habitat loss that is leading to the decline in insects and other beneficial wildlife that are essential for our survival.

Read on to get started!


Connect with nature and with like-minded neighbors
Step out into your garden
Get to know your garden: check out where the sunniest spots are, keeping in mind the sun changes position in winter and summer.  Check out your soil: is it wet, dry, sandy, rocky?  Note any wildlife you see.
Go for walks in your neighborhood.  If you see a garden with lots of wildlife, leave a note on the door introducing yourself and asking if you can come by for a garden tour.  Nature-lovers are generally happy to share their knowledge, and will likely offer cuttings, seeds, and seedlings along with advice.  

These connections are vital for linking like-minded gardeners and creating corridors that allow wildlife not only to survive, but to thrive.  Your note might read something like this: 

“Hello, my name is _________. I live down the street at _________. I’m interested in starting a butterfly garden and would love any tips you might be able to share. My contact info is _________. Thank you!”


Join butterfly/bee/wildlife/native plant garden groups on social media or create your own.

If you are able, join the local native plant society and the North American Butterfly Association’s local chapter.


Educate yourself
Read! Read! Then read some more!

Our favorite books on the subject are written by Douglas Tallamy: Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants; and Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard, and anything written by Ginny Stibolt, starting with A Step-by-Step Guide to a Florida Native Yard. Check out online blogs, ask questions on social media sites.  If you prefer to get your information by listening, YouTube has lots of informative videos available like this one.

Identify the butterflies
Keep your eyes peeled for butterflies in your garden and neighborhood. If you want to see the magic of metamorphosis, you need to educate yourself about which host plants feed the butterfly species you identify. 
In Southeast Florida, we are fortunate to have Marc Minno’s laminated guide which you can buy online, or at Mima Market if you are in Miami Shores or nearby.
If you don't have access to a guide like that where you live, you can upload photos for identification through the wonderful iNaturalist app, or ask Mr. Google for an ID.
Focus on plants that attract insects

Happily, plants that attract insects like butterflies and other pollinators will beautify your garden as well. Birds will be attracted to a garden full of insects, and you can add in plants that offer seeds and berries as well. Now that you are familiar with the growing conditions in your garden, you can use an online tool provided by such organizations as the Florida Native Plant Society or the Institute for Regional Conservation to narrow down options for your garden and its site conditions. Check your local native plant society for a similar tool.

Visit a native nursery or two
Talk with the owner, or just walk around and see what plants are visited the most by butterflies and bees.  Even in the unlikely event you leave the nursery empty-handed, you will find that your stress level is greatly reduced after being surrounded by so much beautiful nature.
Say NO to toxic chemicals
A wildlife sanctuary protects insects and other wildlife. Broadcast spraying even of organic insecticides kills not only mosquitos, but also butterflies and bees and mosquito predators.  

And remember: no insects = no birds (except maybe vultures).


Transform your garden.
Now that you’ve educated yourself and picked out the right plants, you can begin the transformation.  You can create a brand new planting bed or insert plants into the existing landscape.  It is often best to start small and add over time.  You can even keep the plants in pots and create a container garden, keeping in mind that plants in pots dry out faster and need more frequent watering.  
You can find lots of information online about how to plant if you’re unsure. Or download our free Wildlife Sanctuary guide, which provides tips on planting.
free guide
Over time, as you plant more plants, and they grow and produce nectar and berries, more birds and butterflies will appear in your garden.  If you want to identify the birds that appear, try the Merlin app or go to your local library.
If you live in Miami Shores, you can put your pesticide-free, pollinator-friendly garden on our map and see how you are helping weave corridors for wildlife throughout our village.  If you don't live in Miami Shores, we are working on a methodology that will help people in other communities create similar maps.


Become the neighbor who inspired you
Imagine your garden full of flowers and butterflies and bees and birds, and you as the neighbor who can motivate and inspire and inform others on their journey.  It's a wonderful feeling to be able to share and spread the magic!
Once you have started a native garden for wildlife, you will want to save the treasures that the plants bestow in the form of seeds and seedlings.  You will also want to replicate your favorite plants.  There is a lot of information online about how to germinate seeds, pot up seedlings, and propagate plants from cuttings.  It is such a fun process and, before you know it, you will become an expert who can pass on knowledge, along with your garden's bounty, to your neighbors.  
SHOW YOUR COMMITMENT and inspire others
Our Biodiverse Sanctuary garden sign shows that you are committed to saving the beneficial wildlife that is essential for our survival.  The sign, along with the magic you have created, will inspire neighbors and other passersby to create their own sanctuaries, where they too can feel awe and wonder on a daily basis merely by looking out the window or walking out the door. 
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Inspire neigbors
The magic of what you have created will inspire neighbors and passersby to create their own sanctuary, where they too can feel awe and wonder on a daily basis merely by looking out their window or walking out their door. 
Thank you for caring enough to have read this far. We at Bound by Beauty wish you all the best in creating a sanctuary that provides a refuge for native plants and sustenance for the wild creatures that depend on them, and upon whom we depend. You will be amazed at the beauty you will create!


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