Our gardens tend to be landscaped, decked, mown, and fenced. This leaves few options for wildlife that would naturally move in.
If your outside space is devoid of life how about spending a weekend welcoming wildlife into your garden?
To attract any wildlife, you’ll need a water source because all living creatures need water.
A pedestal birdbath or one hanging from a branch will attract small timid birds such as robins and blue tits.
A water source at ground level will help out hedgehogs and ground feeding birds like blackbirds. This could be a purpose bought attractive bath or an old washing up bowl sunk into a hole.
Another great water source option is a small dish filled with pebbles. This gives bees and butterflies a place to safely land and drink.
If you’re really keen and don’t have small children a wildlife pond is the perfect way to attract wildlife.
To create a pond, you’ll need to dig a hole, remove stones and roots, put in a layer of sand and carefully lay pond liner. Alternatively, buy a preformed pond liner or use a washing up bowl.
If you cover the edges in turf and plant sedge then dragonfly larvae will use its tall stems to climb out of the pond and dry their glorious wings.
Your pond will soon be the centre of attention for frogs, newts, toads, hedgehogs, fox, and deer – if they’re nearby they will find it by scent.
Top tip: Ensure there is a way for small mammals to climb out of the pond should they fall in. A group of submerged rocks work well.
Food Glorious Food
Another way to attract wildlife is offering food – we all love to eat!.
A bird table or seed feeder hanginf from a fence bracket will attract our feathered friends, just make sure food isn’t left lying around or it’ll attract rats.
Clean the feeder regularly using a scrubbing brush and wildlife-friendly sanitiser.
Hedgehogs love meat flavour cat biscuits, but so do cats! Cover Mrs Spike’s dinner with a purpose bought hedgehog house or a few bricks with a piece of wood over the top.
Insects need more flower-food and a handful of wildflower seeds will quickly establish on a metre square patch of dug-over soil.
Alternatively, you can buy wildlife-friendly plants with open heads such as lavender, daisies, asters, achillea, honeysuckle, lupins, marigolds, salvia, cornflowers, foxgloves, and wallflowers.
Or you could leave an area to grow wild – just stop mowing it and let the flowering weeds do their thing.
Birdhouses are cheaply bought but do get one with substantial wood or the babies will freeze. Attach it to a shady wall or fence that isn’t easily accessible to cats and magpies.
You can also buy roosting pockets cheaply online and pop these into your shrubs. Birds sleep in these overnight.
Hog houses are another great buy. Get one with a tunnel on the front so if Mrs Tigglewinkle decides your garden is the best des-res the babies won’t be pulled out by a cat or fox.
You could buy an insect house or make one from bamboo canes cut to size and tied with string. A plastic drinks bottle with the top cut off and stuffed with straw or pine cones will attract insects too.
Bee and butterfly houses are very popular and look cute on a sunny fenceline. Keep the entrances free from vegetation and replace the nesting material once a year.
Greenery Is King
Lots of greenery is another great way to provide wildlife much needed accommodation.
If you can plant a small tree such as a crab apple or cherry birds will love the safety of its leaves and the fruits too. Ground-cover evergreen plants such as spreading ceanothus will provide shade for small mammals, insects, frogs, and toads.
Before you finish up for the weekend, create a tunnel beneath your fence line. No small mammals will get in otherwise! Dig a 15 cm deep tunnel, or cut a 15x15cm square from a panel. This is a welcome sign for hedgehogs, frogs, and toads.
Just one weekend can transform your garden into a wildlife paradise, just sit back and watch the wildlife creep in.