Inviting wild visitors to your plot
Read my blog for some insider tips!
If you’d like to see a bit more activity from our bug, bird and beast friends in your garden, you’re not alone. How to attract more wildlife is one of the most commonly asked garden questions I get, so I thought I’d address it in a blog post! With the expansion of urban areas and the loss of a lot of our countryside and green areas, wildlife all over the country is struggling to find a home but the good news is, you can help – without compromising on the look of your garden.
Firstly, remember that the food chain starts with the smallest minibeasts, and by providing food and shelter for the creepy crawlies and bugs that pollinate your garden, you’ll be giving birds and larger animals something to eat. So, to provide a welcoming habitat for these important insects, there are a few simple things you can do.
Grow both trees and smaller shrubs: tall trees provide a habitat for birds and small mammals, and shrubs like elder, crab apple and hawthorn give coverage as well as blossom and berries to feed visitors.
Have a log pile: this doesn’t need to be big – a few sturdy logs piled up under a hedge or in any shady spot can provide a home for a surprising number of species like woodlice and worms, who lend a hand in the garden by processing decaying matter. You might even be treated to a viewing of a rare stag or bark beetle, whose wild habitats are becoming few and far between.
Use layers: grow taller grasses and flowers to provide a space for butterflies to lay their eggs, and to attract bees. Mice and voles also like to hide and nest in long grasses.
Grow some lovely flowers: as if you needed telling twice! Plants like sunflowers, honeysuckle, foxglove and thyme are all known for being irresistible to those all-important pollinating insects, who in turn for a meal will keep gardens everywhere in bloom!
These simple tips are a great foundation for welcoming in wildlife to your garden, and with them you’re sure to see an increase in creepy-crawlies – and with that, more birds, amphibians and larger mammals. If you’re keen to provide a home for all, here are some ideas to help you out:
Include hedges: hedgerows like privet and holly not only provide a source of food and shelter, the bases provide corridors from one place to the next for small mammals like hedgehogs and even rabbits.
Provide water: this doesn’t have to even be a full pond – something as unintrusive as a large plant pot or a dustbin lid placed partly beneath ground can provide a source of drinking water for animals, as well as a rich ecosystem for insects and amphibians like frogs and newts. If you can avoid the temptation to interfere, allow plants to grow naturally in the water.
Night-scented plants: these are fabulous for attracting moths to feed on the nectar, and with the moths come bats who are an absolute joy to watch swooping in the twilight!
Manage your garden sustainably: it’s important to remember that wild visitors to your garden may be harmed by pesticides, slug pellets etc. so it’s advisable to use these as a last resort if possible. Making your own compost is another great idea – not only is it totally natural and provides nourishment for your garden, but a compost heap provides the perfect environment for microscopic species to do their thing.
When you invite more visitors into your garden, everyone benefits. Follow these simple steps and with a little bit of patience, you’ll be enjoying the wonders of wildlife in your garden in no time.