Looking after our gardens really matter, and with an estimated 16 million gardens in the UK, together they form a refuge for species declining in the wild. Make this year the one to change your garden to be more wildlife friendly, and follow these tips to transform your garden space, whether it’s a small one or a couple of acres, into a haven for the best UK wildlife.
Let the grass grow
Leave the lawn mower in the shed, and let the grass grow long. Long grass is one of the rarest garden habitats, as we like to keep our lawns looking trim. By letting at least some or even all your lawn grow, you are providing space for many plant and insect species to flourish, including wildflowers, butterflies and dragonflies. You can also leave the grass to grow longer over winter and cut it again in the spring if you’d like it to look a little more kempt but still want to make your garden more wildlife friendly.
Grow climbing plants are great for wildlife in your garden, as well as being an attractive addition to the garden. Go for a plant like ivy, as the flowers and seeds are good sources of food and pollen. Climbers, like ivy, clematis and roses also provide year-round cover for birds and insects, even when they lose their leaves in winter.
Put in a pond
A pond is a fantastic boost for wildlife, and it doesn’t even have to be very big, you can just use a buried bucket or trough. If you do want a big pond, make sure there are stones or branches to help the wildlife get in and out. Ponds are best filled with unchlorinated water from a water butt, and waterlilies will help prevent the water from becoming stagnant. Avoid locating it in full sun or a place covered with total shade.
Gaps in fences
Don’t lock out hedgehogs and frogs from your garden. Make sure your garden fence has some gaps at the bottom or between posts which will allow wildlife such as hedgehogs and frogs to move freely from plot to plot. This can also help link different habitats together, and you could also join up with your neighbours to help expand the habitat and accommodate more creatures.
Bird boxes and feeders
Birds are vital to the ecosystem of gardens. By installing bird boxes and feeders you can make sure they thrive, especially in the winter months where natural food such as insects are scarce. Put a bird box up high in a sheltered site. In spring provide protein-rich feed such as fat balls and seeds in winter. If there are cats around, place the feeder near a dense bush so the birds are provided with cover.
It is not just birds you can provide a home for, and making an insect hotel is very easy. Leave piles or rocks, twigs and rotting wood in your garden, maybe in a damper or shaded area. This easy makeshift hotel will create shelter for all sorts of important insects such as beetles and spiders.
Having a compost heap or bin is a win-win situation. Making and using your own compost will naturally improve your soil, and will also provide a habitat for many creatures. Worms, slow worms, woodlice, many other insects and even frogs can make their home in compost, but avoid attracting rats by using only raw food.
Flowers look beautiful and bring colour and scent into your garden. They also provide food for many insects. Try growing as many varieties as possible, to ensure colour all year round, and food for the insects in your garden for longer. Also, keep in mind the UK climate, so plant native species where you can, and not the rare and exotic flowers which could die.
Be more relaxed about having weeds and wildflowers in your garden. Plants such as nettles, daisies, dandelions and buttercups are an important source of food for many insects especially butterflies and moths. They flower for a long time, no matter the weather and so provide food when other sources are absent. You can also enjoy your garden yourself all throughout the year, along with the whole family, with our mens, ladies, and kids country clothing. Wrap up warm over the coming weeks to start creating your garden to be the ultimate wildlife haven.