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As we are gradually becoming more aware of how to better look after our planet and delicate eco-system, people are looking for simple ways in which they can help at home. One of the most simple and engaging ways to do this is to create a wildlife-friendly and safe garden.
Creating a wildlife garden does not need to be expensive and you also do not need to have a big garden in order to attract different species. I live in a ground floor flat in an urban area on the borders of London, my garden area is roughly 8 foot wide by 3 foot long, but so far this year already it has attracted toads, newts, many different bugs, squirrels and a whole host of birds.
If you create a welcoming area for wildlife they will find it eventually and if they feel safe they will continue to return.
7 Simple Ways to Attract Wildlife to Your Garden
Build a bug hotel
Bug hotels do not need to be fancy, in fact, the more basic the better. Use old wood to create an outer box then fill it with various twigs, rocks, leaf piles, etc. Insect hotels are there to attract a whole host of bugs including beetles, spiders and ladybugs – all of which are handy for deterring other pests which may ruin your flowers.
Recycle wherever possible. Use reclaimed, old materials when building raised borders and other garden structures. Old pallets and scaffold planks can make great materials for building.
If you do not feel like building your own insect hotel you can purchase them for a fair price from Amazon. Big hotels are best placed higher up, preferably on a wall, and in a quieter part of your garden.
Plant Flowers for Pollinators
The easiest way to attract various insects, birds and other pollinators to your garden is to plant flowers. A Pollinator garden will be one full of colour and aroma, meaning it will be attractive as well as wildlife-friendly.
Pollinators are known as Keystone Species because they are species upon which others depend. They’re responsible for pollinating over 80% of the world’s flowering plants.
Best Flowers for a Pollinator Garden
- Marjoram (Oregano)
If you want to attract some of the classic British wildlife species such as hedgehogs and toads then you will need to provide shelter.
For hedgehogs, it is as easy as providing a big pile of leaves. Hedgehogs love nothing more than snuggling under a damp pile of leaves, however, you can also buy hedgehog igloos which are a bit more sturdy and can also be filled with leaves – making a perfect environment for hibernation.
Make sure you always provide access to your garden in the form of a small hole in a fence. There is no point in providing shelter and food if they cannot access it.
If you wish to provide food for the hedgehogs in your garden then meat-based (not fish-based) cat or dog foods work just fine. Avoid leaving out milk or bread as this can harm them.
For toads, it is a simple as placing flower pots on the side in a shady location and close to a water source if possible. Plastic flower pots are cheapest but clay pots also work better for providing a cooler environment.
If you do not a close source of water, then try placing a dish with water and rocks to substitute a water source.
Do not use slug pellets
If you want to create a safe wildlife garden then avoid using slug pellets. All slug pellets are toxic, to all species, including hedgehogs, toads, dogs and cats, therefore you should not be using them.
While slugs and snails can be seen as pest which can destroy plants, they are vital for creating a vital eco-system and in fact will attract other ‘more desirable’ species to your garden, who will then regulate the presence naturally.
Feed the birds
Feeding the birds is a quick and easy way of attracting wildlife to your garden and you will quickly learn we have a lot more than pigeons!
Different types of birds have different dietary requirements, therefore, the bird food you choose will attract different breeds. Generally, the best type of foods to leave out are seeds and suit balls, seeds are best during Winter and suit-balls are best during the nesting seasons of Spring and early Summer.
Some bird feed can be quite expensive, however, I purchase all of mine from stores such as the Pound Shop and Pound Stretchers and it works just as well as the more expensive feed.
When placing bird feeders, always try to place them near a bush or at least some form of covering, this will ensure they have some form of protection of prowling cats.
Leave it wild
For those who are not too keen on gardening or do not have much time for upkeep, you are in luck! One of the best ways to attract wildlife to your garden is to leave to grow, this will in time mimic a meadow and start to attract some of the shyer species of wildlife.
Piles of leaves and twiggy debris provide both food and habitat for many species and rocks provide excellent hiding areas for amphibians.
Use climbing plants
Climbing plants on fences or walls make nesting and roosting sites for birds and provide a haven for small animals and insects. Choosing plants which have nectar-rich flowers followed by fruit, such as honeysuckle. Evergreens like ivy are also important in a wildlife-friendly garden.
Recommended wall climbers:
Related post: Top Wildlife Webcams to watch from home
What to do if you find a baby bird in your garden
During Spring it is not uncommon to find baby birds in your garden and assume they need help, however, by trying to help them you may end up causing more harm than good.
Nestlings are baby birds that have no feathers, or only a few.
Nestlings will not survive long outside the protection of the nest so take it to your nearest wildlife rehabilitator.
Fledglings have all or most of their feathers and leave the nest just before they can fly.
Leave a fledgling alone and watch from a distance, as the parents are usually nearby and will still be feeding the bird. Never try to return a bird to the nest as this may disturb the other young birds.
If a fledgling is in immediate danger, place it in a sheltered spot a short distance away.
Attracting wildlife into your garden is a simple way to engage with nature as well as support our fragile eco-system. Whether you live in a rural area with a large garden or in an urban home with a small patio, it is still possible to create a wildlife-friendly area for a relatively low cost.