We recently shared our tips on making your garden hedgehog-friendly, but if you want to also attract other wildlife to your plot, read on for our handy advice.
The creation of a wildlife garden will attract a diversity of wild creatures. It will go some way towards redressing the balance of human interference with nature, which has destroyed so many habitats in the past.
Also, by helping hedgehogs, birds, bats, frogs and toads to survive the winter and providing places for them to raise their young, you will be rewarded by their help keeping your garden pests under control.
We encourage our service users who are able to garden and watch wildlife in their outdoor spaces. It’s great for their physical and emotional wellbeing and their mental health.
Think about features
You could include features such as a wood pile, a compost heap, hedges, wildflowers and suitable plants, a rockery and a mini-pond or bog garden.
You should also remember to include hedgehog, bird and bat boxes. Providing nesting boxes for hedgehogs, birds and bats might encourage these creatures to reside in your garden, although this cannot be guaranteed.
Hedgehog boxes should be sited in a quiet spot hidden by ground covering plants, low shrubs or tree branches.
The bird and bat boxes should be placed in trees with cover. If you have no trees then fix them on walls or fences, preferably in the cover of foliage from a climbing plant, and well away from the reach of cats and other predators.
A bird bath provides birds with somewhere to drink and bathe. Feather cleaning is essential, and a bird table holding a variety of foods will attract various feathered friends.
A water feature with different depths is great for wildlife. Shallow areas are used by bathing and drinking birds, emerging dragonflies and somewhere for amphibians to lay eggs. Deeper areas help aquatic insects survive cold spells and are good places to watch newts swimming.
Peanuts in dispensers are favoured by blue tits, coal tits and great tits, but greenfinches, nuthatches, siskins and even woodpeckers might be seen pecking at the nuts.
Seeds and specially purchased bird food sprinkled on the table will attract finches, robins, sparrows and starlings. Half a fresh coconut provides much needed energy for small birds.
Early and late flowering plants provide nectar for insects at critical times – just after they emerge or just before hibernation.
Tidying borders and cutting shrubs in late winter and early spring can help retain seeds and fruit for birds and small mammals during winter. Ivy is a late source of autumn nectar for insects and late winter fruit for birds.
Fruiting bushes are also a good source of food for birds and mammals during the autumn and part of the winter.
Climbing plants provide some of the benefits of trees without taking up too much space. They can be trained and often have the additional advantage of growing up fences and walls.
Climbers typically provide shelter for invertebrates and nesting and roosting sites for birds. They often provide flowers for nectar and fruit for food. Well-chosen climbers also add colour and form to a garden and can be decorative, as well as being useful to wildlife.
Many birds such as blackbirds, thrushes and starlings will use the lawn to hunt for worms and insects. Green woodpeckers will visit too to look for their favourite food, ants. Avoiding all chemicals that eliminate these food sources is essential for a wildlife-friendly lawn.
If you need any more advice on gardening, check out our blog posts here.