Avant Gardening

Avant Gardening & Landscaping

Archive: February 2016

How-To Encourage Bird Nesting This Spring!

What would a garden be without the music of birds? Spring is the perfect time to think about ways to encourage birds to take up residence in your garden. Picture 340

During this mad-dash of territory conflicts and courtship rituals our birds need to find food, water, mates and a home to call their own! Try thinking like a bird – Your #1 priority is survival! By far the most labor intensive activity is building some kind of shelter where you (and your future little ones) will be safe and warm. Imagine having to select a site, gather materials and build a home… every year… without thumbs! This process for many birds can take thousands of trips over a week or more.

Let’s try to help out these busy parents by providing some material for them. Just like the birds themselves, their nests come in all different shapes and sizes! Typically birds use natural materials to construct their nest, but if the opportunity is available to them they will use more common household-type materials as well.

Naturally Found Materials: Twigs, Sticks or Roots, Dead Leaves or Grass Clippings, Moss or Lichen, Pine Needles, Spider Web Silk, Mud or Small Pebbles, Cattail Fluff, Cottonwood Down or Milkweed Seed Fluffmilkweed fluff

Household Materials: Yarn, String or Fabric Strips (3-8” lengths), Cotton Balls, Human Hair or Animal Fur, Shredded Paper, Broom Bristles or Mop String, Dental Floss, Stuffing or Batting

Keep in mind that not all materials are safe for birds! For example, do not provide dryer lint – it crumbles after exposed to rain and your laundry detergent/fabric softeners can leave harmful residues.

How To Provide Materials?

There are multiple ways to offer nesting materials to our feathered friends. The easiest tactic is to simply leave dead twigs, leaves and grass clippings in concentrated, readily-observable piles around your property. If you would like to be able to observe the action, try filling an empty suet cage, wire bicycle basket or wicker container and hanging it from a branch. You can also offer material loosely draped over a clothesline, tree branch or bird feeder.

Watch & Wait

Consider leaving out something that you can easily recognize again, such as brightly colored strips of yarn or fabric. It can be fun (especially for kids) to watch and see how something was incorporated and completely transformed for a different use.

Many factors will play into a bird’s decision on a nesting site – most of which are completely out of our control. The most important thing to remember is: Be Patient. Birds have gone through this process many times and are used to finding things on their own. It may take a few seasons for them to even recognize our efforts, but when they do – the experience is definitely rewarding.

Avant Gardening & Landscaping’s Top 3 Reasons to Visit Garden Expo

The cold of winter has finally arrived in Wisconsin… which means it is time to think spring!!

Make plans to join Avant Gardening and Landscaping at the 2016 Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo February 12th-14th at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. This event is sure to get you ready for all your spring gardening and landscaping adventures. For more information visit: www.wigardenexpo.comGarden Expo 2016

While there’s a long list of fun things to do throughout the weekend, here’s a quick look at our team’s top 3 reasons to visit:


If that’s not enough to get your gardening soul excited, we don’t know what will! There’s a huge variety of topics from beekeeping to landscape design. Becky Kielstrup, Avant Gardening’s General Manager/Horticulturalist, will also be presenting! Be sure to check out her seminar, especially if you are interested in reducing or eliminating pesticides and inorganic fertilizers in the landscape. She will discuss organic lawn care, sustainable planting bed methods, native plants, integrated pest management and simple tips on how to begin!

Organic Landscape Maintenance Practices
When: Saturday 1:00pm – 2:00pm Location: Mendota 5


Need a new outdoor grill, gardening tools or maybe a whole new garden? Try your luck in the Garden Expo Raffle. This year, Avant Gardening & Landscaping has donated a $200 gift certificate towards a Perennial Collection, a great prize whether you’re an established gardener or just starting out.


Back by popular demand, the second annual Farmers’ Market! It will feature farmers, food artisans and local food retailers. Products available include pickles and preserves, artisan cheeses, honey, olive oil, tea, chocolate, greens, coffee, and hand-crafted salami and cured meats. Stop by the expo on Sunday, February 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and visit the Atrium of the Exhibition Hall to do some shopping!

Avant Gardening and Landscaping will be one of the many businesses, contractors, nonprofits, and artists on hand, ready to answer any of your questions throughout the weekend. We hope you venture out for this mid-winter oasis – Spring will be here before we know it!