Old Towne Orange: A Sanctuary For All

Wildlife Garden in Old Towne Orange

Charming historic homes, white picket fences, tree-lined streets, and an abundance of fruit trees make Old Towne Orange resemble a village straight out of a storybook from your childhood. If you’ve got your heart set on making your OTO story a fairytale, a la Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella, there are some effective ways to invite some friendly critters to your doorstep. While we can’t guarantee that they’ll help with cleaning and baking, we encourage you to consider making your garden a certified wildlife sanctuary. Read on to learn how you can attract the company of songbirds, colorful butterflies, not-so-creepy crawlies, and more!


Wildlife Habitat on Palmyra Ave.
Wildlife Habitat on Palmyra Ave.

The soil in OTO provides us with so much, we might need to write the land a mother’s day card! We have access to oranges, lemons, limes, and avocados, stunning flora and fauna, and plenty of shade and fresh air. What more could you ask for from your hometown? 

If you’ve ever enjoyed a shady stroll through towne, picked a fresh lemon or orange, or just enjoyed the scenery of flowers, you might want to return the favor by making your front or back yard a haven for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Think of it as the ultimate form of eco-friendly karma—getting back what you put into the earth.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, we benefit greatly.

  • Tree Coverage improves water retention and reduces carbon and air pollution. In fact, certified wildlife habitats withdraw approximately 811.62 metric tons of CO2 annually more than their non-certified neighbors. 
  • Native Plants assist with water conservation and stormwater runoff management.
  • Active Gardening helps brain function, calms blood pressure, and provides great sleep benefits.

And the impact on wildlife? Even more incredible.

We’re So Grounded

Garden for Wildlife vs. Conventional Yard Graphic from the National Wildlife Federation
Garden for Wildlife vs. Conventional Yard Graphic from the National Wildlife Federation

We have not been so nice to Mother Nature. Our fetish for green lawns reminiscent of the suburban utopia of Leave it to Beaver may look nice, but they have a significant and negative impact on the environment. For example, many people use chemical-laden pesticides to keep their lawns pretty, but there are a lot of great options out there that are planet, people and bee-friendly.

Other examples include:

So how do we make it up to Mother Nature? The National Wildlife Federation has a plan.

Garden Party Hardy

Ready to dig into it? A certified wildlife habitat contains four essential elements: food, water, cover, and places to raise young. 

  • Food like nectar, seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, foliage, pollen, and insects are eaten by a variety of wildlife. Your habitat needs at least three types of feeders. Here are some examples:
      • Seeds from a plant
      • Berries
      • Nectar
      • Foliage/twigs
  • Water is critical for animals to hydrate, bathe, and breed. Consider some of these water options:
      • Butterfly Puddling Area
      • Birdbath
      • Seasonal Pool
  • Cover provides shelter from bad weather and an opportunity to hide from predators or stalk prey. Make sure to include at least two of these features:
      • Brush or Log Pile
      • Dense Shrubs/Thicket
      • Bramble Patch
  • Places to Raise Young are needed to help local species survive. It is important to look into which animals are native to your region in order to offer the correct habitat for their juveniles. You will need at least two places for animals to mate, bear, and raise their young. Try:
    • Native Trees
    • Nesting Box
    • Host Plants for Caterpillars

When creating your habitat, make sure you engage in sustainable practices. This could mean limiting water use, installing mulch, and eliminating chemical pesticides. Also, don’t forget to spread the word to your neighbors! Remember, we’re stronger in numbers and by making this a group effort, we’ll be rewarded with gorgeous streets and fresher air.

You can learn more about the steps to certification at nwf.org.

Looking for some inspiration for beautiful wildlife gardens? Take a walk around the neighborhood!

Here are some of our favorites:

Wildlife Habitat on Hardwood St.
Wildlife Habitat on Hardwood St.
Wildlife Habitat on Palmyra Ave.
Wildlife Habitat on Palmyra Ave.
Butterfly Sanctuary on Culver Ave.
Butterfly Sanctuary on Culver Ave.
Butterfly Sanctuary on Culver Ave.
Butterfly Sanctuary on Culver Ave.

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Last Updated on May 24, 2023 by Pattie Cordova