A patch is an area of habitat.
Patches can come in any size. For example, balsam fir trees enjoy a huge patch of habitat across Canada’s boreal forest. But, a small Wisconsin yard with the right site conditions could also be a habitat patch for balsam fir.
If you own a yard – or even a balcony that could host a few flowerpots – then you have a patch. It is your choice what to do with it.
Some people choose to have a lawn, maybe with some non-native ornamental flowers or shrubs, and to prevent any other plant or animal from living on their property. Other people choose to make space for many species in their patch.
Even in a small yard, it is possible to have multiple patches. For example, one corner of the yard might include trees, along with plants that like shade. Squirrels may nest here, and forest birds might drop by. Another corner of the yard could host sun-loving plants, and the insects that frequent them. A third corner could feature a pond or rain garden, providing a habitat patch for wetland plants and birds that like to bathe.
Patches differ in quality as well as size. While a grouping of woodland plants in a corner of a suburban yard is not as good as a forest, it is better than a single aggressively-pruned tree standing in a lawn. Even relatively small, low-quality patches can provide critical resources for struggling species.