Lizard Habitats – Why Your Yard Needs Them

By David S.

Lizards – they dart around the yard and display themselves on warm rocks. We love them because they eat bugs and help keep our yards and gardens free of pests. Lovely as that is, there is a little hidden perk to attracting lizards to your yard. The Western Fence Lizard carries an enzyme that purges deer ticks of the pathogen that causes Lyme Disease. As pests, ticks are difficult to control because of their nature. They come and go on wildlife and hide in leaf litter, on plants, and in other places. Attracting lizards to your yard is a beautiful way of reducing the spread of Lyme Disease. Plus, they help with pest insect populations. In this edition of the Green Thumb Nursery’s newsletter, we provide free landscape designs and ideas for attracting lizards to your yard. We also walk you through setting up a lizard habitat so that you can attract lizards to your yard.

YOU WILL NEED:

The primary goal is to make a mound. We recommend a ringed mound of at least four feet long and two feet wide. The habitat can be larger than this, and this is a wonderful project that also creates flower beds. The outer ring can be made using old bricks, river rock, pieces of cement, or even flower pots. The mound itself is made of soil and then is decorated with plants and other objects that provide shelter, water, and food. Here’s a closer look at what you need. 

1. The outer ring – We use River Rocks – Medium-sized or another type of structure such as old bricks. The idea is to create a barrier that will hold the soil from the mound in place and give a little bit of elevation to the structure.

2. Soil – Start with good garden soil and Green Thumb Nursery carries a wide variety. In this variety of lizard habitat, we also recommend a top mixed layer of E.B. Stone Cactus Mix as we will be talking about adding succulents to the habitat too. Succulents and cacti are both drought-tolerant, and that’s a huge plus when it comes to growing specialized beds in Southern California. Be sure to also ask our staff about water-retaining soils too.

3. Plants – You can grow a variety of plants and lizards will love them. Generally, you want a mix of small flowering plants that are not too bushy. Along the edge consider trailing plants such as lobelia and alyssum. The fragrant flowers attract all types of insects from flies to wasps, all of which the lizards will eat. Of note, male mosquitoes feed on plant sap, and a lizard habitat will help to control the mosquito population too. Plants for the center of the mound are mostly succulents. Good options include:

  • Calandrinia spectabilis –  works well along the border and spaced apart. Grows about 1′ tall with purple flowers. One or two is all you need in a 4×2′ mound.
  • Sedum rubrotinctum – is another excellent choice with its beautiful red-tipped green leaves it creates a striking ground cover for the habitat.
  • Sedum rubrotinctum – offers a nice contrast to Sedum rubrotinctum with its gorgeous dusty sage coloring and small star-like clusters.

The truth is that we offer many varieties of sedum and most work well for this project.  Stop in and shop in person so that you can pick out the ones that you love.

  • Sedum – this is a vast family of succulents, and you want to use these to create a bit of drama on the mound and as plants to fill in gaps between other plants. The trick is to create little mounds on the mound but using terracotta pots as platforms. Place some soil in the pot, turn it on its side, and place it on a rock platform so that as the sedum grows, it spills out of the pot. The top of the terracotta pot will become a roosting place for lizards to sun themselves and to attract mates. To make the sedum flow – place two rocks next to each other so that they create a sharp V into which you lie the pot on its side with the sedum in it. You want to position this so that the lip of the pot is elevated off of the ground and as the sedum grows it will cascade down the drop and look like it is flowing out of the pot. This is just one of the many design ideas used to create beautiful lizard habitats. Another good tip is to mix the types of sedum across the mount. One of the appealing aspects of sedum is that they come in a wide array of colors and leaf patterns. They also almost all bloom at some point, and their blooms are quite striking.

Another plant to add to your lizard habitat is a few strawberry plants. The lizard will eat fruit and fruit will also attract insects for the lizards.

When choosing plants for your lizard habitat, choose short growing plants with plenty of colors. Sedum works really well because they allow the lizards to hide without hindering their movement.

4.  Structures – We recommend terracotta pots and flat stones. The pots are partially buried and planted with sedums or flowers. The tops of the pots become display areas for the lizards to watch for insects, sunning, and to show off for mates. It is also good to place an old board on the mound with one end of it elevated. You can do this using a pile of rocks or old bricks. The lizards use all sides of the board, including the underside to hide, hunt, and sun.

GREEN THUMB NURSERY SHOPPING LIST: 

Soil – potting soil, water retention soil, and cactus mix –

Plants, we recommend sedum, succulents, cacti (a few), strawberries, and border plants that flower.

Structures – river rock, terracotta pots, and you can recycle an old board.

A small dish for water – both the lizards and bees will love the water dish. To use, just find a pretty planter dish and place in it a few flat rocks. Fill it with water so that the stones are just barely submerged.  You will have to keep it watered so that the lizards use it.

Lizards are lovely additions to your yard and garden, and they help to reduce the risk of diseases such as Lyme Disease. This project is easy to put together and will last for many, many years. For more help with plant choice, structures, and other items, be sure to ask our experts in the nursery.

Due to the popularity of plants and products, our inventory of both sells out quickly at each of our five locations. Call ahead to check on the availability of special products or to ask questions about products, plants, and tools.

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