Encouraging Wildlife in Your Garden

Here are some things for you to try this spring and summer...

When it comes to new build homes in particular, you can often find yourself with the exciting prospect of being able to cultivate your very own garden from a perfect blank canvas.

Your garden is well worth investing in too, because not only are gardens are a great extension of any home: providing a great space for children and pets to play as well as offering extra outdoor storage space and a place to hang the washing out, research also reveals that a well-established garden can add up to 20% more to the value of your home should you decided to sell and move on in the future. 

One of the best ways to get the most out of your outdoor space is to turn it into a haven for wildlife. 


Not only is a wildlife friendly garden beautiful, it also an exciting environment for children and adults alike which will provide you with joy all year round.

Don’t think you can’t attract wildlife to a small garden either; no matter what size your outdoor space, there is always a way to encourage something, from birds and bees to hedgehogs and frogs to come and make their home there, all you need is a little expert knowledge.

To save you the time, we’ve been reading up on some of the best ways you can make your garden, a wildlife friendly garden using top tips and advice from authorities such as the Royal Horticultural Society, the RSPB and Countryside Info.

Here are some things for you to try this spring and summer:
 

Compost!


Not only is composting a great way of recycling organic kitchen waste and garden waste, but it is also a great way to encourage wildlife into your garden. By composting you are helping garden plants, insects and other wildlife to speed up the natural process of reusing nutrients by taking advantage of decomposer organisms like soil bacteria and fungi.

It’s also another form of shelter enjoyed by many small creatures and in some cases larger ones like grass snakes and of course, it will keep your flower beds supplied with healthy soil all year round. You can easily start composting any time and you need very little equipment to do it, visit Get Composting.com for useful guides and videos to get you going.
 

Introduce Water


Don’t worry though, if you don’t have the space to dig a pond simply supplying a container filled with water is a great start and you can use anything from an unused flower pot to a purpose built container.

For a wildlife garden, it’s best not to add fish into your pond or water feature though, as the fish will eat most if not all of the smaller water insects it may attract. You will also need to make sure your water area has at least one sloping side to provide easy access and some shallower water which experts’ think amphibians like newts and frogs in particular enjoy.  
 

Make a Mini Meadow




If you’re the lazier kind of gardener or the “strapped for time” kind of gardener then making a mini meadow is the perfect way for you to bring wildlife into your garden. All you need to do is scatter a mix of wildflower seeds into a dedicated grassy area and then let nature do the rest. Thompson and Morgan have a more in depth guide to sowing wild flower seeds on their website and if you are a New Home Finder Hub member, you can save on their seeds and bulbs using the discount codes in the My Offers area.

It is easy to implement and even easier to look after as meadows are very low maintenance.  All you need do is mow a simple path through your mini meadow for time to time, to provide new space for plants to colonise and a new area for wildlife to explore.

According to Countryside Info, a mix of wildflowers and longer grasses will provide the perfect environment for butterflies, moths, dragonflies beetles and in larger meadow spaces even small rodents, reptiles and amphibians.
 

Plant pollen producing flowers


What you are looking for here is flowers and plants with as long a flowering season as possible to provide pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects for the longest period of time possible. Mixing plants with different flowering times is also great.

Some good choices include things like crocus and honeysuckles which flower from late winter into early spring, Bergenias and Hebes which flower throughout spring into summer and Alliums and Buddleia davidii (aptly names the butterfly bush) for flowers throughout summer into early autumn and then things like Dahlias and ivies for later blooms over autumn. For other choices you can consult the RHS Pollinators Plant List which gives you a great overview of the best pollinators for wildlife and when they flower.
 

Mix Up Your Flowers, Shrubs & Trees




If you want to attract and range of wildlife to your garden then you need to plant a range of different things. As mentioned above, flowers are great for pollinating insects but for birds you’ll need to plant trees such as Conifers and Crab Apples to provider nesting sites.

Planting hedging such as Elderflower and Hawthorn is also a good idea to provide cover and shelter. Better still, many of these plants also produce fruits and berries which will sustain birds and insects with food throughout the year as well providing you with a useful crop for homemade jams, sauces and even champagne
 

Create Hiding Places & Shady Spots


This a great way to involve the children in your wildlife garden project. Simply gather materials such as rocks and stones or dead wood and logs and then stack and pile these up in shady and sheltered spots in your garden.
Dead wood (which needs to be unpainted and untreated) creates a specialist habitat for things like beetles, providing the ideal place for them to keep their grubs. It also can serve as a useful hibernation spot for other animals like hedgehogs as well.

Rocks and stones on the other hand are favoured by insects such as mason bees and even support specialist plans too. A great way to add this into your garden is to build a rock garden in a dedicated area where these plants and insects can thrive.

If you don’t have the space for a rock garden though, simply allowing the naturally occurring holes in brick walls and sheds to remain in situ is enough to provide nesting spaces for mason bees and hiding places for other insects away from the sunlight.
 

Supplement Nature with Nurture


Over the winter in particular, supplementary food and safe habitats can mean the difference between life and death for many of your garden residents and in particular birds.

One way to make up the deficit is by introducing things like bird tables, seed feeders and nest boxes in to your outdoor space. You should also try and ensure an unfrozen and clean supply of water is available through the cold weather as well, a bird bath is a great way to do this.
 

Think Sustainably!


Last but by no means least, making a simple lifestyle change can really help make your garden more attractive to wildlife. By avoiding man made pesticides you can limit the amount of harmful chemicals in your garden and reduce your carbon footprint as these pesticides are often produced using fossil fuels.

Using your own compost as we mentioned before is also an excellent way to recycle garden and kitchen waste is a natural way that benefits the garden. You should also think about sourcing sustainably produced garden furniture and storage too which has been treated with organic or natural dyes, paints and varnishes where possible. 


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Publish date: 30/06/2017