My Backyard

Backyard Conservation: Small Steps, Big Impact

Some simple, effective tips for enhancing the wildlife habitat in your backyard and improving the water quality of Mud Creek.

Build a Bat House

Bats are great for insect control, seed dispersion and pollination.

Learn more:

Create an Ephemeral Pond

Ephemeral (vernal) ponds are great breeding habitat for salamanders and many amphibians.

Find out more: VernalPondGuide.pdf

Plant a Wildflower Meadow

Meadows planted with a broad range of native wildflowers provide an important food source  for bees, butterflies & other pollinators.

Find out more:

Build a Brush Pile

A brush pile provides shelter and nesting to birds and other wildlife. Simply collect and pile up downed tree limbs, 3 to 4 feet high.

Plant Native Trees and Shrubs

Native plants, trees and shrubs are an important source of food, shelter and nesting for many species. They also provide erosion control and aquifer protection, and reduce carbon dioxide by converting it into oxygen.

Find out about which native plants, trees and shrubs to use for landscaping:

Remove Invasive Species

Non-native species often crowd out preferred native plant species. This reduces the food supply for wildlife, which reduces biodiversity. Removing non-native species like garlic mustard and bush honeysuckle is a great project for school and scout troops.

Learn more about non-native species and how to control their spread at:

Bush Honeysuckle

Garlic Mustard


Control Erosion and Runoff

Reduce creek siltation and improve Mud Creek's water quality by controlling erosion. Use mulch, apply matting and plant native vegetation to minimize soil erosion.


Get a Rain Barrel

Rain barrels help conserve water and reduce runoff and erosion. Water collected in rain barrels can be used for landscaping and gardening.

A number of vendors sell rain barrels. Check out:

Avoid Monoculture and Weedkiller

Treated lawns reduce earthworms by 60 – 90%. Weed killer also kills bees and beneficial insects. A typical lawn receives 10 times as much chemical pesticide per acre as farmland. Lawn care also places a significant load on public water supplies. 30% of water used on the East Coast goes to watering lawns; 60% on the West Coast.

To have a great looking lawn without using weedkillers, improve the pH of your soil with lime, overseed to crowd out weeds, and plant native, drought-resistant grasses.

Don’t Discard Yard Waste

18% of municipal solid waste is yard waste, which uses up a lot of space in crowded landfills.

Yard waste can be a great source of natural fertilizer. To compost yard waste, mix equal parts leaves and grass, turn over often, and use the finished compost on your lawn in place of fertilizer.

Learn more at:

Avoid Colored Bark Mulch

It’s not the dye, it’s the source of the mulch. This can be treated lumber, non-native wood, or other waste products disguised as mulch. Use locally available natural mulch instead.

Don’t Dump Chemicals in the Sewer

Untreated chemicals are toxic pollutants. Drop off chemicals, paint and motor oil at authorized drop-off points. More information at the Indianapolis Toxic Waste website.

Don’t Feed Wildlife (except for birds)

Feeding wildlife creates a public nuisance, creates dependent wildlife and creates imbalances by artificially boosting populations of opportunistic species.

Don't leave food outside, and use secure garbage cans.

Don’t Landscape with Non-Native Species

Non-native species crowd out natives & reduce biodiversity. Learn about native plant species suitable for landscaping at:

Purple Loostrife takes over wetlands