Wildlife friendly features;
To keep this page short, interesting and readable. I have linked to more detail on my other pages.
Big is not always best. It's sometimes better to do small things that can be maintained rather than build a zoo and then lose interest.
if space is limited setting aside even a small area of your garden will attract our native wildlife. Even a single Buddleia tree (butterfly tree) will attract butterflies.
Whatever the size.... If you create a wildlife friendly garden.... Wildlife will come.
Growing a native hedge or copse of berry and nut producing trees is a really great way of attracting wildlife into a garden. I have explained, what, how and the hedging plants you can plant from October through to March here Native British hedgerow.
Grow a wildlife friendly herbaceous border, perennial plants flower each year so they're easy to tend and are great for attracting wildlife. Plants we weed out of our prim and proper borders, like Forget-me-nots, Buttercups and Ox-eye daisies are pretty and great for wildlife.
Early spring bulbs like bluebells (our native ones) lesser celandine, wild daffodils and snakeshead fritillary all produce nectar for insects when food is still scarce in spring. Borage and clover (the same clover we try to weed kill from our chemical dependent lawns) are great for bumblebees. Cowslip, cranesbill, foxglove, poppy and cornflower all produce nectar and are pretty wildlife friendly plants.
Create a hedgehog house or shelter. Hedgehog houses are simple to make. Piling stones, earth or wood over a sturdy upturned crate leaving just enough space for the hedgehogs to get in and out should be enough to encourage habitation.
Site the nest box against a wall, bank or fence in a quiet overgrown area of your garden so the hedgehogs can forage nearby with protective cover. Try not to disturb the nest once it's occupied, as a frightened mother hedgehog may abandon her young. Hedgehogs will often also choose their own space in a hedgehog-friendly garden to shelter and.... hopefully even breed, under sheds or hedges, log piles and compost heaps.
Pet dogs, badgers and foxes are the hedgehogs biggest enemy so make sure that your hedgehog box is sturdy. Hedgehogs are great little natural pest controllers eating slugs and snails found in damp, grassy areas of the garden. Slug pellets and other garden chemicals are harmful to hedgehogs so avoid using them and instead leave it to your hedgehogs to keep slugs and snails under control for you.
Building a rockery will attract wildlife, even a small pile of stones attracts insects and in turn the wildlife that feed on them. A rockery made from garden stones and old house bricks will make a great shelter for insects. Insects like Spiders, Woodlice and beetles that add to the biodiversity of your wildlife garden.
A rockery will also encourage the animals that feed on them to hang around during winter. Even providing shelter for slugs and snails is worth doing as thrushes and hedgehogs will feed on them.
The stones should be arranged loosely, leaving cracks and gaps for insects to get in between them. For larger rockeries, fill some gaps with gritty soil and plant crocuses and natural British Bluebells between the rocks. This will provide insects with an early nectar and pollen supply.
To speed up the look of aging on the stones. Brush them with yogurt, this encourage lichens to grow making the rockery even more natural.
If possible, build the rockery near to a nature pond, even a small one and use larger pieces of stone or rocks to create nooks and crannies. Newts and frogs will shelter and hibernate in the cool, damp crevices and toads may hibernate in burrows under the rocks. Slow worms may hide under the rocks and stones until dusk when they come out to hunt however, they do seem happiest in my compost heap.
Make a woodpile it will attract and provide shelter for insects and they in turn will attract insect eating wildlife into your wildlife garden. To make a woodpile select a moist shady area under large shrubs or trees. Pile logs and dead branches one and leave the wood to decay naturally.
Many insects like Ground and Rove beetles eat both adults and slug eggs and prefer undisturbed damp shady areas. The insect eating animals that in turn live of the insects will visit the area too, just wait and see. The Woodpile is best left undisturbed because Stag beetles larvae will live in this wood for several years until they reach maturity.
Toward the bottom of this page there is more information about the best place to position nest boxes and how to look after them.
A wildlife pond can be a haven for wildlife. Frogs, toads, newts, leeches and boatmen will live and breed in a wildlife pond providing the environment is right.
Frogs, toads and newts, can be beneficial garden creatures eating a wide range of garden pests and can be encouraged by providing log piles and other damp habitats in which they can shelter and a wildlife friendly pond where tadpoles can develop. . A pond, even a container pond is one of the most wildlife friendly things you can do in your garden.
I have written this guide to make a wildlife pond.
An interesting and pretty way to create a good environment to add the features outlined above too. Is to sow wildflower lawn seeds over the whole area and then gradually add the features.
Chose the area you are going to set aside and lightly rake over. Most wild plants prefer poor soil, so no fertiliser.
Sow a packet of meadow mix directly over the area. Follow the instructions on the packet.
Wait, watch and enjoy.
Click on the wild flower picture for more information.
Positioning the bird box
Looking after and maintenance of a wildlife friendly garden is fairly easy.
Less is best in a wildlife garden. The wilder the better.
Saying that, there will be a bit of tidying up to do. Maybe some pruning and checking the features you have added to the garden. Check the hedgehog house is still standing, the bird nesting boxes are cleaned once the birds have flown, the pond is not leaking here's a checklist for a few things to do all year round to look after wildlife in your garden.
Winter is over spring is here and summer is on the way. However, there are still some hungry birds in your wildlife garden.
Maintaining Wildflower lawns and mini hay meadows is covered here Wildflower lawn
Help Hedgehogs in Winter
For most animals finding enough food in winter can be difficult,
Hedgehogs solve this problem by hibernating. Going into a deep sleep when the body temperature drops, the heartbeat and breathing slow down helping them save energy and survive the winter without eating.
They get ready for hibernation by eating extra food and storing it as body fat to use as energy while sleeping.
Hedgehogs need a safe place that is protected from extreme weather to hibernate safely and
compost heaps are perfect. A composting bin with a lid and access at the base or an open heap covered with a thick piece of old carpet to keep it dry and insulated both make a great place for a hedgehog to sleep away the winter..... Just avoid disturbing the bin between autumn and April.
leaves you have cleared up from paths or lawns piled in a dry sheltered corner or under a hedge, also make a good shelter for hedgehogs.
Help Frogs get through winter
Male frogs often spend winter in the muddy bottom of your pond, breathing through their skin. Gases caused by decaying plant material can get trapped and poison them if the pond freezes over, so float a tennis or golfball on the surface to prevent ice from sealing over.
Leave herbaceous borders intact in winter so decaying plants give shelter for small mammals and insects. Clumps of ornamental grasses may offer the perfect hibernaculum for a hedgehog, while hollow plant stems and seedheads provide nooks and crannies for invertebrates. Seedheads are also a source of oil-rich food for birds which may visit to feed.
Put bundles of twigs at the back of borders, or in a plant pot on its side, where invertebrates and small mammals can shelter.
Leave stacks of plant pots in a sheltered spot to offer shelter for bees and other insects needing a cool, dry place.
Birds in winter
Birds don't hibernate, some migrate to warmer climates and return next year.
The birds that stay and overwinter in our gardens will require a lot of energy to keep themselves warm. Energy comes from food..... so the more insects you attract into your wildlife garden and the more seedheads you leave in herbaceous borders the less energy birds will use up flying around looking for food to create the energy to keep them warm... Don't be too tidy, makes sense doesn't it.