7 Steps To Making Your Garden A Haven For Wildlife
If you care about the environment and you watch the news you are probably at least a little concerned by the decline of wildlife all over the world. Not just tigers and elephants, but birds, bees and hedgehogs too!
Well the good news is that you can do your bit for the environment simply by making your garden a haven for all things living, and at the same time you will make your home more beautiful!
Gardens are one of the best places to attract and preserve nature, by providing a stable and healthy ecosystem for a diverse range of wildlife.
It’s easy to make your garden space welcoming to a range of birds, insects and mammals, and it can make your garden a vibrant, colourful and educational space. Follow these tips for encouraging wildlife to use your garden, and enjoy the variety of new visitors throughout the year.
Preserve old walls and spaces
While you might think that that crumbling old wall or run-down shed is just an eyesore, it can in fact be a very attractive spot for a variety of insects, especially bees.
Gaps between tiles and holes in bricks are often used as nesting sites by fruit pollinating bees – making an ideal complimentary feature if you have fruit trees in your garden.
Don’t disturb old logs and leaf piles
A lot of making your garden welcoming to wildlife is about preserving the natural waste and detritus that is often lying about. While you might be tempted to clean away fallen leaves and rotting logs for a sparkling clean garden, you might also be destroying valuable habitats for garden visitors.
Hedgehogs love to find old log piles, where they can hunt for bugs…
And lots of other small mammals including amphibians will enjoy an old log or a pile of leaves, left in a dark, damp corner of the garden. These natural compost piles can encourage slug-eating centipedes, as well as frogs and newts.
Plants of all kinds will attract a variety of birds and insects to them. To encourage as much diversity as possible try to mix and match from a wide selection.
Tall wildflowers will draw a range of insects, from bees to dragonflies, while long grasses are prime spots for butterflies looking to lay eggs. Hedgerows are immensely valuable and can home hundreds of different types of animals, from nesting birds, to small mammals and insects.
Finally, add in a few night-flowering plants, such as evening primrose, will attract both moths and their predators, bats.
Wildflowers are an ideal garden addition if you would like to attract a diversity of butterflies and other insects to your garden. As some species of wildflowers are particularly attractive to individual species and provide a valuable source of food, they are useful to grow wherever you can.
Plants such as cowslip, foxglove, harebell and marjoram are highly attractive to bumble bees, and these will also help with pollination across the rest of your garden plants.
To encourage a variety of butterflies, plants including yarrow, hawkbit and valerian will all add welcome sources of pollen, as well as a variety of colour and shape to your garden.
Ponds and bog gardens
Wet areas including ponds and bog gardens will both draw a variety of wildlife to them, particularly through the spring and summer months. Ponds can house a range of animals, from frogs and toads, to dragonflies and other insects.
Bog gardens can be created in a similar way to a pond, but having only a shallow depth of water, they are a much safer garden feature, particularly if you have small children around. Fill a bog garden with plants such as marsh marigold and water mint, to attract a diverse selection of wildlife.
Welcoming birds to the garden
Birds of all varieties are known to pop into gardens, and will often be attracted by other features you may have. A pond or waterfall offers a rich source of insects, as well as a fresh bird bath, while trees and hedges make ideal nesting spots.
To encourage birds to visit, provide regular sources of food – a variety of nuts and seeds are particularly welcome when flowers and insects are dwindling in the colder months.
Oh and if you have other pets – especially cats, then adding a bell to your cat’s collar will give birds some warning of their approach, and hopefully reduce the number of casualties.
Leaving out snacks
As well as the natural sources of food provided by plants and insects, you can also give wildlife a helping hand by leaving out additional snacks for them.
Encourage birds with bird feeders filled with a variety of seeds – hung up around the garden on trees and along walls, they provide an attractive display, and will visit through the year.
For smaller mammals like hedgehogs, leftover pet food, dried fruits and vegetables are particularly tempting. Avoid things like milk or bread as these can be toxic and harmful.
My name is Ricky, I am a keen gardener, I love my garden pond and I love wildlife. I work at Swallow Aquatics who sell lots of pond building equipment like pumps and liners (check them out here).