How to make the local wildlife love your garden

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  • Invite Toad, Hedgehog and co to hang out in your patch and all the bad guys will soon be shipping out

    You may live in an urban area, but you can still create a wildlife haven in your garden by making a few small adjustments that will make your patch irresistible to nature’s good guys. As well as being a real spirit-lifter, this will have the advantage of cutting down on undesirables such as slugs, snails and aphids. From brewing your own compost to building a pond, here’s how to make nature go wild for your garden.

    1. Plant bee-friendly flowers
    Nature’s prize pollinators will make an, um, beeline for your garden if you plant a pretty mix of flowers – think alliums, lavender and catmint – and cultivate a fragrant herb garden with rosemary, sage, mint and chives. And if you can stretch to a bee hotel, life will be so cushy for them, they’ll never want to leave.

    2. Entice the butterflies
    These fluttery characters just love to drink down nectar-rich flowers in sunny spots. Plant out your garden with a pretty mix of flowers such as buddleja, wallflower and lavender – not only will this give your patch a colour boost, but the butterflies will soon flock over to yours. And be sure to leave some fallen fruit at the bottom of trees as the butterflies will feast on over-ripe plums, apples and pears.

    3. Build a pond
    Slug pellets are not only dangerous to the environment, but they can be lethal to small mammals and curious cats. If you’re overwhelmed with slimy slugs and snails, enlist the services of Frog and Toad by creating a cool water world. While they may not be nature’s lookers, these hungry amphibians are spectacular at keeping down the slug population, meaning no more chewed-up home-grown fruit and veg and no decimated plants.

    4. Call on Mr Hedgehog
    If you prefer your predators spiky rather than googly-eyed, the hedgehog is another prize slug and snail muncher, who has the added plus of being super-cute. When it comes to encouraging one to set up home in your garden, be sure to keep areas wild, with copious amounts of leaf litter and a few logs, or treat your spiky visitors to a hedgehog house. They will also happily take up residence near a nutritious compost heap, which brings us neatly on to our next point…

    5. Make your own compost
    By recycling kitchen scraps – always uncooked unless you want a bunch of unsavoury rats to show up – you’re doing your bit for the environment by helping to cut down on landfill use and pollution, as well as providing a yummy meal for hedgehogs, toads and slow worms. You don’t need anything fancy to get going – a heap of vegetable peelings, grass cuttings, old teabags and coffee grounds covered with an old rug will soon rot down to a lovely nutrient-rich mix you can use to power up your garden.

    6. Bring on the birds!
    Who wouldn’t want to be serenaded by a robin or blackbird’s sweet-sounding trill? The easiest way to encourage your very own feathery orchestra is to grow sunflowers for their seeds and berry bushes and dot a few bird feeders stuffed with unsalted nuts, seeds and fat around the garden – up high, mind, so they don’t get caught out by sneaky Puss. Another more adventurous way to help them out is to create a living hedge – think evergreen ivy – which will not only be a visual treat for you, but will provide them with berries to eat and be a place for them to nest and shelter. And don’t forget a birdbath to help keep them hydrated.

    7. What a result!
    By looking out for nature, you’ll soon have a bumper crop of fruit and vegetables, a host of beautiful blooms and heaps of wild new friends. Then you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

    Check out The Wildlife Trusts for more info and ideas on how to attract other good guys such as bats, stag beetles and ladybirds to your garden.

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