How to make your garden wildlife friendly (in 5 easy steps)

The UK’s wildlife is in decline, but our gardens offer a vital haven. Learn how to make your garden greener!

 

How to make your garden wildlife friendly:

It’s much easier to create a wildlife friendly garden than you may think.  Even if you only have a small amount space available there are lots of things you can do to attract more lovely wildlife into your garden.

The news that UK wildlife is in trouble, with one in three species halving in number in the past half century, should galvanise us all to make our own patch of green as welcoming as possible to wildlife.

It may seem like a drop in the ocean, but the 15m gardens in the UK cover 270,000 hectares, covering more space than all the National Nature Reserves in the UK.

Here’s what to do to make your garden more wildlife-friendly:

1)Don’t be a neat freak
Garden debris – dead leaves, plant stems and the like – provide all sorts of benefits for wildlife, from the lacewings and ladybirds that overwinter in hollow stems to the birds who gather this material for their nests and the hedgehogs who hibernate in dead leaves at the bottom of a hedge. One great way to incorporate dead material into your garden is what’s known as a “dead hedge”. Here’s how.

2) Build a pond
A stretch of water – even a puddle a few centimetres deep made from an upturned dustbin lid – will entice
plenty of wildlife into your garden, from dragonflies and bats to frogs and newts. But don’t add goldfish – they eat smaller animals and encourage algal blooms. There’s an excellent guide to making a wildlife pond on the Pond Conservation website.
A bee arrives at of a flowering crocus in the Royal Botanic Gardens, KewA bee arrives at of a flowering crocus in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
3) Choose plants for pollinators
Many plants bred in the past few years have done pollinating insects no favours: the fashion for elaborate double flowers that don’t allow bees access to pollen and nectar is a real blow to our falling pollinator population. But a resurgence in pollinator-friendly blooms is well under way. Try to buy plants from the RHS Plants for Pollinators list and concentrate on providing a long and uninterrupted season of flowers, from crocuses, single-flowered snowdrops and hellebores in winter, through to asters and anemones in autumn.A blue tit emerging from nest box.
4) Give birds a place to stay
It’s easy to buy (or build) nest boxes suitable for almost every garden bird imaginable, from owls to robins and sparrows to housemartins. Take in the BTO’s advice on positioning boxes and remember it may take a while before you get any residents – one of my boxes has blue tits raising their brood it for the first time after a three-year wait.Dawn Isaac's wildlife stack
5) And don’t forget the insects
They’re aren’t as photogenic as birds, but without insects none of your fruit trees will be pollinated and the birds will have nothing to feed on. Insect hotels have become a popular purchase at the garden centre in the past few years, but often their impact is limited by their small size. If you have room, think about creating a wildlife stack instead, using old wooden pallets, roof tiles, scavenged bricks, bamboo canes and stones. You can make a surprisingly attractive garden feature this way – see garden designer’s Dawn Isaac’s guide to making wildlife stacks for more advice. And if you want to keep the insect population healthy, garden organically, avoiding the use of synthetic chemical pesticides and weedkillers which have been linked to pollinator decline.

 

Find out more
The tips above are just the start: there are hundreds of things you can do in your garden that will have a positive impact on wildlife. There is a wealth of information online and in print on wildlife gardening, but there’s no substitute for joining your local Wildlife Trusts group and learning from experts in your area.

Sources:

 www.guardian.co.uk

www.surreywildlifetrust.org

 

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