Create a garden for wildlife
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Making your garden attractive to wildlife needn’t involve a lot of work. Whether you have a meadow or a small patch of grass or even a balcony, with a few clever tricks you can bring the countryside to your back door.
The importance of our gardens in protecting Britain’s wildlife has never been greater. As more and more of our wildlife habitat is taken up by farming, industry and housing, many native species are in decline.
Our gardens hold enormous potential for helping to reverse this. With the right plants, some special habitats and a more relaxed approach towards garden maintenance, gardens, patios, balconies and even window boxes can all become important refuges for wildlife.
Encouraging more creatures into your garden needn’t be difficult or time-consuming either. A wildflower bed can be just as effective as a meadow and a pile of logs can provide shelter for a whole host of insects in just the same way as an elaborately built bug hotel. Even if you only have a tiny space, you can do great things for bugs, such as installing a window box or planters with herbs and flowers, putting up wall-mounted bug houses or even making a container pond.
Remember, whatever space or time you have available, a few small changes and your garden will soon by full of life. And the more you do to welcome creatures in, the more you’ll enjoy the space as you sit and listen to the wildlife around you.
Tips & tasks
• Don’t be too tidy. Dead leaves, plant stems and other garden debris can provide all sorts of benefits for wildlife from hedgehogs that hibernate in dead leaves, to spiders and earwigs that live under dead plants.
• Making a pond is one of the best things you can do to attract wildlife into your garden. Or if you haven’t got much space a large pot filled with water can be just as effective.
• An open compost heap will provide the ideal home for worms, beetles and other insects.
• Attract bats, bees and hedgehogs by providing specially built boxes comfortable enough for hibernation, or make bee boxes by tying bits of bamboo together and hanging them around the garden.
• Create a butterfly garden by choosing a good mixture of plants that will flower throughout the year and plant them somewhere warm and sheltered. Remember to choose single headed flowers so insects can get into them easily.
• Hedges make excellent shelter for wild animals, protecting them from extreme weather and predators and providing berries and flowers for food. Grow one from scratch or plant an instant one.
• Get the kids involved and create a bug hotel or bird feeder. You can customise an exciting structure in your garden such a shed by cladding the walls with bricks, slate tiles or bamboo sticks or simply stack wood in a corner of the garden where nothing else will grow. It will not only invite garden visitors but can look great too.
• If you haven’t got room for a wildflower meadow, a wildflower bed can be just as effective. Sow a mixture of wildflower and grass seeds to attract a range of insects, birds, bees and butterflies.
• Don’t forget fragrance. Scented flowers such as Roses not only offer lovely aromas for you to enjoy but provide the added benefit of attracting insects.
• Look out for plants with the ‘RHS Perfect for Pollinators label.