7 ways to make your garden wildlife friendly

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  • Here’s how to make your garden a haven for bugs, birds and bees.

    When there’s talk of natural habitats for animals, do you automatically think of the countryside? Well, you would be wrong. However big or small your garden is it can provide refuge for wildlife too.

    From planting pollinator-friendly flowers to building a bee hotel, here’s how to make your garden wildlife friendly and get it buzzing.

    Feed the birds

    The summer is the perfect time to put up a bird box. Make sure it’s in a sheltered spot, out of reach of predators, and attract a variety of species by using a range of feeding techniques – during the spring and summer, when birds are feeding their young, put out foods high in protein, and high energy foods in autumn and winter.

    Build a pond

    Even a puddle of water in an upended bin lid will entice plenty of wildlife into your garden. Apart from the creatures that may come to live in a pond, others may find it to feed, drink, bathe and breed. If you can, vary the depths of the water as shallow areas will be used by bathing and drinking birds and emerging dragonflies, while deeper areas will help aquatic insects survive the colder months.

    Create a compost heap

    Yes, compost is good for your garden, but it will also attract worms, insects, birds and other insect and slug predators, such as hedgehogs.

    Don’t be a neat freak

    Cutting back on cutting back is possibly the easiest way to bring wildlife into your garden. If you have a lawn, resist the urge to mow it, as long grass is important for butterflies to lay their eggs in. Leave tidying up borders and shrubs until late winter or early spring, to provide shelter for insects throughout winter. Climbers such as ivy will provide a protective habitat all year round and a late source of autumn nectar for insects, and late winter fruit.

    Build a hotel

    A 5-star luxury wildlife hotel is easier to make than you think and, chances are, you’ll have most of the material lying around your home and garden (follow the RSPB’s guide here) or piling up rock and rotting wood will work just as well. Find a quiet spot in your garden and layer bricks, rocks, wood and leaves.

    Fill it with flowers

    Get your garden buzzing and pack as many pollinator-friendly flowers, such as marigolds, cornflowers and geraniums (the RHS has a full list here), in as possible. Avoid plants with double or multi-petalled flowers as they may lack nectar and pollen and insects may have difficulty in gaining access.

    Pile it up

    Keep a pile of logs in an undisturbed spot in your garden to provide shelter for insects and mammals. If a hedgehog makes a home there, it will feed on all your slugs and snails. Bonus.

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