DIY Habitats to Help Your City’s Beneficial Birds and Bugs

By Annie Thornton, Houzz

Urban Hedgerow, an art and ecological collaborative in San Francisco, has been planting wild habitats in the city landscape since 2009. In addition to raising public awareness of and creating discussion about the importance of the beneficial bugs and wildlife in our built environments, the group is also beautifying it, leaving custom bug boxes and public habitat sculptures as calling cards, spreading the word of our silent allies through the dwellings they inhabit. 

Though more people are recognizing the importance of native plants in their gardens and are leaving plants up over winter, most yards and cities on their own do not provide adequate homes for our beneficial bugs and wildlife. “We have 81 species of native bees in the Bay Area,” says Lisa Lee Benjamin, founder of Urban Hedgerow, and our urban environments supply limited habitat opportunities for them to survive. Providing cavities and wood with predrilled holes creates more chances for these essential insects to grow and expand their populations in our urban environments. Constructed habitats for spiders help reduce houseflies and mosquitoes. 

You can be an urban-habitat instigator, too. Urban Hedgerow hosts workshops and sells ready-made bug boxes on its website. You can easily build a habitat tailored to your environment too.

Constructed habitats can be easily added to city environments for use by wildlife year-round, particularly important over winter. “Creating habitat, rest stops and food sources for insects and birds helps to encourage biodiversity in our city and beyond,” says Urban Hedgerow project manager Blaze Gonzalez. They also help with garden productivity.

Urban Hedgerow, original photo on Houzz

What You’ll Need to Make Your Own Bird and Insect Habitats


• Habitat hanger: sawtooth hook, magnets, nails
• Wood rounds deep enough to drill 4 to 6 inches deep
• Wood perch for bird habitats
• Plant materials (leaves, twigs, bark, pine needles, thistle, grass)
• Hollow stems or reeds
• Wool, horse hair, moss (for birds to build their nests)
• Twine, cotton