As we roll into autumn, we would like to remind our green-fingered customers to think about potential wildlife that may be venturing into their gardens over the coming months.
Here is our easy-to-follow guide on how to turn any garden into a haven for birds, small animals, and insects. Helping wildlife doesn’t have to cost the earth, nor does it require acres of land either. The smallest gardens can still offer plenty of options, and it only takes a few tweaks.
If it’s insects you want to cater for, then simply by piling up some rocks, logs, twigs and/or leaves in a quiet spot, quickly provides an array of insects such as beetles and spiders, with a quiet undisturbed home.
Another great and easy idea is to implement a compost bin. Not only do they use up food waste and feed your soil, but they also form the perfect habitat for worms, frogs, fungi, woodlice, spiders, and even grass snakes! Put raw food waste in – unless you have a bin that keeps rats out, then you can put cooked food waste in too – and turn it every week with a fork. The compost can take anything from a few months to a year to be ready, and then you’ll be able to spread it across your plant beds.
If you can create a pond – that would be ideal. However, if this isn’t possible, you could bury a shallow bucket or stone basin. It should be filled with rainwater and you should build it in a part-sunny, part-shady spot so it doesn’t go stagnant. Make sure it has at least one sloping side to allow creatures an easy way out, or you can line the pond with stones. Ideally, you shouldn’t introduce any fish to a pond that has primarily been built for wildlife as they’ll eat anything that moves, but you can grow water lilies in it to keep it oxygenated.
Birds are an important part of garden ecosystems. There are plenty of bird boxes and feeders on the market to suit all styles and budgets. Make sure you set it up near a dense bush so small birds such as blue tits can dart in and out, but place it high in a sheltered site, away from the reach of predators. Put out protein-rich feed, such as fat balls, in the spring when birds are feeding their young, and switch to seed in the winter.
You can create your own little meadow by scattering wildflower seeds in a corner of your garden or a dedicated flower bed. They’re great for insects, are low maintenance, and look gorgeous too, often with a mix of annual wildflowers such as poppies, Nigella, corn marigolds and annual grasses.
Leave your mower in the shed! Another super easy idea is to simply allow a small patch of your grass to grow longer than the rest. This will provide shelter for small mammals like mice, voles and shrews, as well as food for some butterfly caterpillars. Leave the grass long over the winter and cut it again in the spring.
Finally, make sure the wildlife can get in and out of your garden with ease. Small animals like hedgehogs and frogs will struggle to find their way in unless you adapt your fence – all you have to do is make sure your fences have gaps at the bottom to allow wildlife to move through from plot to plot