Top Ten Tips for Gardening for Wildlife
Grow a mixture of flowering native and non-native plants to provide nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies and a host of other insects. Make sure that the plants you have in your garden, flower and berry at different times of the year, so there is food available over all four seasons. Choose trees and shrubs with berries, nuts or seeds for birds, small mammals and other animals.
Download the following sheets for ideas of what to plant and where:
Make space for water
A pond (without fish) will support a wide range of animals and provide a place for amphibians and dragonflies to breed. It will become a focal point for wildlife within your garden. If a pond is not practical, go for a simple bird bath, pebble fountain to provide water to drink.
Leave perennials uncut until the spring
The seed heads look amazing when covered in frost and provide valuable food for birds and other animals through the winter. Many perennials have hollow stems that provide valuable shelter for over-wintering insects.
Compost your organic kitchen and garden waste in the garden
The compost heap will provide welcome food and shelter for a host of animals including hedgehogs and grass snakes and provide a year round source of food for insectivorous animals. And the compost will provide a free source mulch and soil conditioner for your garden.
Grow climbing plants against bare walls, fences and trellises to create new vertical habitat
Climbers provide great cover and food for birds, insects and mammals. Climbing plants can also help provide privacy to your garden and disguise unsightly sheds and boring walls. Set trellises 10cm from wall or fence to allow ample room for nests.
Leave dead wood
Dead wood is a valuable habitat supporting a wide range of invertebrates, as well as providing shelter for amphibians and small mammals. You can collect cut or wind blown wood, piled up in shady corners or use larger limbs and stumps to create an interesting sculptural feature.
Bird, bat and hedgehog boxes
Bird, bat and hedgehog boxes provide valuable nesting, roosting, sheltering and hibernation opportunities, and it’s not just for the larger animals. Invertebrates can also benefit from the provision of shelter. Collecting together some hollow stemmed plants and placing them in a quiet corner of your garden will also help.
Feed the birds with nuts, mixed seeds, scraps and fat balls
If you start feeding keep it up through the year. If you use a bird table and feeders make sure these are kept clean. Make sure these feeders are close to shrubs and trees for cover and near enough to the house so you can enjoy the daily dramas.
Leave parts of your lawn uncut
Leave part of your lawn uncut perhaps where it borders onto a native hedge or runs down to the compost bin… Long grass is great for small animals like grasshoppers, beetles and young amphibians and provides cover for small mammals out foraging at night. Grasses are also important food sources for the caterpillars of some butterflies.
Use mulches to control weeds where you can
Reduce your use of chemicals in the garden by encouraging predators of common garden pests frogs, toads and song thrushes all eat slugs and ladybirds and lacewings love greenflies. Encourage a balance in your garden to develop through planting a wide range of plants (some of which could be disease or pest resistant) in varied ‘habitats’.
Think about where things you buy for your garden have come from
Check that plants are not sourced from the wild and that container grown plants are not grown using peat based composts. Make your views known to the shops you use to buy plants.