However big or small your garden is it can provide refuge for wildlife. With some careful planning and planting you could soon find your outdoor space teaming with insects, birds, small mammals and more.
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Below are some top tips for taking creating your very own wildlife garden.
1. Leave your garden to grow
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.
2. Plant insect-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, they’ll be so comfortable, they’ll never want to check out.
You can also get your garden buzzing by packing in as many pollinator-friendly flowers, such as marigolds, cornflowers and geraniums (the RHS has a full list here), 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.
3. Make a watery world for wildlife
A pond, or even just a container of water, will attract wildlife such as frogs and newts to your garden. Ensure that you keep it clean and control algae – you can do this without harmful chemicals with barley straw pond cleaners. Give it a sloping edge so animals can access the water easily.
4. Create a compost heap
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.
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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.
You can also buy pre-made wooden composter boxes or fashion something from anything you have lying around in the garden shed.
5. Swap your fence for a hedgerow
If you’re keen to get more wildlife in your garden replace ordinary fences with cultivated hedgerows. Native plants such as blackthorn, hawthorn, field maple or hazel will provide nesting sites and berries, nuts and hips will encourage hungry wildlife in wintertime.
6. Introduce a bird box
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, such as sunflower seeds and soaked raisins and sultanas. In autumn and winter, switch to high-energy foods with more fat, such as kitchen scraps.
The RSPB has a great range including bird seed and bird food mix feeders, peanut and suet nibble feeders, suet feeders for cakes and balls for the wild birds in your garden.
7. 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. This is an added bonus if you’re keen to keep them away from your new crop of plants.
Which tips will you follow in your own garden?