Attracting Wildlife and Birds to your Garden
Your garden can be a haven for a huge variety of wildlife, including birds, butterflies and other insects, lizards, hedgehogs, frogs and more. Here are some tips to make your garden attractive to all sorts of interesting birds and beasts throughout the year.
The easiest way to attract birds is to put up a bird feeder. It’s worth researching what types of food will attract different varieties of birds and help you meet their needs in different seasons. You can also put up bird boxes to suit the birds in your area.
Ensure that your garden is safe for birds by deterring cats from hanging around, or otherwise make sure that any feeders and nesting boxes are well out of reach of any feline predators and make it easy for the birds to spot any approaching danger.
Hedgehogs need a warm, dark place to hibernate during winter. Creating a pyramid-shaped log pile can attract them to your garden, or create a hedgehog house out of a wooden crate (add a smaller box as an entrance tunnel, fill the larger one with dry leaves and drill a small airhole). Leave your prospective hedgehog home in an undisturbed and well-hidden corner. If you have a fence, removing a small section will allow hedgehogs easier access to your garden.
They like to eat cat and dog food as well as dried fruit and cooked veggies, but don’t give them milk or bread as it can make them very unwell.
Fallen leaves left undisturbed in a shady and moist corner of your garden will attract frogs, toads and newts, who all enjoy a bit of decay.
Ponds are probably the most useful element for wildlife if it is safe for you to create one in your garden. Make sure the edges are shallow and gently sloped to make it easy for frogs and newts to get in and out. Add some plants to give them shelter and keep it clean without using chemicals to give them the best possible habitat.
Slow-worms are often confused with baby snakes, but are in fact a lizard. Unfortunately they are becoming ever more rare to spot in the UK but you can create a haven for them in case they do come into your garden by laying down a small piece of carpet or roofing felt at the edge.
Butterflies, Bees and Other Insects
Butterflies love bright colours so filling your garden with colourful blooms will go a long way to attracting them. They also the warmth so having some flat rocks for them to sun themselves on will help too. You can also create puddling spots for the butterflies to hang out in by filling shallow dishes with sand and a bit of water and placing them in sunny areas in your garden.
Bees can be encouraged into your garden by planting plants that have plenty of pollen and nectar such as lavender. If you fill a clay pot with leaves, straw and a small amount of cotton wool and place it upside down in a sheltered section of your garden you might be lucky enough to have a bumblebee move in for the winter.
You can invite ladybirds and lacewings into your garden by making a nest out of a bundle of bamboo or cow parsley stems tied together and placing it in a tree nook or wall crack. Hollow bamboo canes cut short, tied together and hung from a tree can also attract the solitary mason bee, or left on the ground acts as a home for all sorts of creepy crawlies. A bug box will do the same thing and is a great way to get children interested in the insects that can thrive in a garden.
Having a log pile in your garden creates a wonderful habitat for all manner of small mammals, amphibians and insects. Planting a native hedgerow of hazel, hawthorn or field maple will give much needed winter food and shelter for wildlife during the winter. Putting a bit of thought into how you arrange your garden and the plants you grow in it will go a long way to helping you attract a wonderful diversity of wildlife.
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