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The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has launched a new campaign, called ‘Giving Nature a Home’. As wild habitats disappear ever faster, it’s becoming more and more important that gardens are wildlife-friendly. So we thought it might be helpful to give you some hints to make your garden nature-friendly all year round.
So what are our top five tips for wildlife-friendly gardening? And more importantly, what can you do at this time of year?
Water really is the magic ingredient for all wildlife: add water, and the animals follow, from small insects to birds, frogs and toads, and hedgehogs. Even a small pond will help, and now is a good time to build one. Whether you choose a ready-made pond, or use flexible pond liner, provide an access point for animals to drink, and put marginal plants around the edge to create cover. If you don’t have room for a pond, or don’t want one, how about a shallow bird bath? Every little helps, as they say.
Compost heaps can provide homes for all kinds of animals, as well as a source of food and a warm shelter in winter. Toads may take up residence, and plenty of flies and other insects like to feed there, which attracts birds. What’s more, you get home-made compost for your garden too, although you’ll probably find that you still need to buy compost from compost suppliers too!
This is a particularly good activity with children. Bug houses don’t have to be big, although you can make some fantastic ones with three or four pallets stacked up, stuffed with different sorts of materials, such as dried grass, fallen leaves, small sticks and twigs and so on. But you can also make miniature bug houses out of old plastic containers, by filling them with sticks, drinking straws, autumn leaves and the like, and providing a range of habitats in odd corners of your garden. Now is the best time to do this, so that insects can overwinter safely.
The more different plants you have, the more different insects you will attract, and so you will also have more of the animals and birds that feed on them. Wildlife gardening is a gardeners’ dream!
We said it was a gardeners’ dream! At this time of year in particular, leave fallen leaves on flower beds, preserve some untidy parts of your garden, grow bits of lawn longer by not mowing. All these things provide habitats for wildlife and shelter for winter, while making your life a bit easier. It’s a win-win situation.