With many buildings, roads and paved areas cropping up everywhere, the natural wildlife habitats are struggling. Together we can help the wildlife on our doorstep by learning how to create a wildlife-friendly garden in our own spaces. It doesn’t matter about the size of your outside area, there is always something you can do. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you different ways to help wildlife by letting you know how to create a wildlife-friendly garden.
Did you know that around 22.7 million homes or 87% of UK households have access to a garden? The problem is an increasing amount of these gardens are being turned into hard surfaces, which causes trouble for wildlife.
But you can make your outside space wildlife-friendly with these changes.
1. Bird boxes and feeding the birds
Probably the easiest place to start is to get a bird feeder and a bird box. You can make a quick bird feeder from an old plastic bottle, or they are fairly reasonable to buy. Leaving seeds out for the birds will encourage them to use your garden as a base and they will also have a place to nest if you put up a bird box.
Personally I feed the birds from my front garden and not the back. The reason for this is that I’m trying to encourage them away from my cherry tree and my other fruit bushes that I have growing in the back garden. Last year they ate all my cherries!
2. Create a compost heap
A compost heap will attract worms, insects, birds and other insect and slug predators, such as hedgehogs.
Here are a few tips on how to create a compost heap/bin.
- Get a compost bin, if you don’t fancy a compost heap.
- Position it in the perfect spot – well drained and level so worms can get in.
- The worms will do the hard work for you, breaking down organic matter.
- What to put into compost? – veg peelings, fruit waste, teabags, plant prunings and grass cuttings. It’s also a good idea to put in some cardboard egg boxes, and leaves to help create air pockets and provide fibre and carbon.
- Don’t put these into your compost – meat, dairy, diseased plants, cat or dog poo. Also plastics, glass and metals should only be recycled.
- Give it a good airing. It will need regular turning to aerate the waste and cuttings. It will lead to faster composting.
- Your compost is ready you’ll when you have a dark brown, almost black soil-like layer at the bottom of your bin.
3. Grow Butterfly-Friendly Plants
Numbers of butterflies are declining, therefore it’s important to grow butterfly-friendly plants to help with numbers. One of the best-known nectar flowers for butterflies is the Buddleja. If you love purple flowers another favourite is Verbena. Hebe is an evergreen shrub, that when it flowers it attracts bees as well as butterflies.
4. Grow Climbers
I like honeysuckles, but clematis and certain varieties of rose are excellent climbers for wildlife. They will provide shelter for birds and insects during the winter, and flowers in the summer for the bees.
5. Add a water feature
Any type of water feature in the garden will bring wildlife to your garden. Birds will have a place to drink and bathe, while smaller insects will thrive in a garden pond. Adding plants such as Hornwort will help oxygenate the pond and keep it and its inhabitants healthy. Frogs newts and toads will soon call your garden home.
6. Create a woodpile, or an insect hotel
A pile of wood is the perfect home for woodlice amongst other insects. Woodlice are a source of food for spiders, toads and shrews. All you need to create an insect hotel is old pine cones, bits of bark, plant stems, bamboo and some bits of wood or old roof tiles to keep it dry.
7. Have a wild garden area
Leave a part of your garden lawn unmown. Longer grass is a haven for small insects and bees. Some wild plants are called weeds as they grow so fast and can overcome your garden. But nettles, dandelions, and thistles are an important part of the ecosystem. To restrict them in your garden you could plant them in pots. OK, so it might seem a little strange to have a tub of nettles, but you are doing your part to help the wildlife in your garden. You can have a wildlife-friendly garden on one side, and your romantic garden on the other!
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