Increased building work and the uses of pesticides on farmland and in gardens are threatened the habitat of the UK’s indigenous wildlife, such as bees, butterflies and hedgehogs. You can do your bit by transforming your garden into a wildlife oasis, with the added benefit that you’ll get a beautiful garden for humans, as well. Here’s how:
1. Don’t use pesticides or chemicals in your garden
This is one of the main things you can do to make your garden a ‘safe space’. Butterflies and other insects can’t feed on flowers that have been sprayed, and pellets put down to kill slugs may have the unintended consequence of killing hedgehogs or birds who eat the dead slugs. As an alternative to spraying, you could use a copper band around pots and vulnerable plants to stop slugs and snails. Spraying plants with water with a tiny drop of eco washing up liquid in it will kill aphids safely. You could also introduce ladybirds into the garden to eat aphids – you can buy the ladybirds online! Other options include picking the predators off by hand (time consuming but satisfying!) or using a protective barrier such as garden netting.
2. Don’t over-garden
This is an ideal excuse if you’re not mad on gardening! Leave a corner of your plot completely untended – don’t mow the grass, and only pull out rampant weeds if they’re encroaching on the rest of the garden. Plant some wildflowers such as poppies and cornflowers, and soon your ‘wild plot’ will be full of dancing bees and butterflies.
3. Give wildlife a home
Once animals find your garden, you want them to stay there! Install bird boxes, bee hotels, hedgehog houses and toad dens, all of which are available to buy online or in garden centres – or make your own if you’re good at DIY. Insects and toads love rotting wood, and attracting insects such as beetles will help you build a mini-ecosystem in your garden and provide food for the other inhabitants. Build a small wood pile in a corner with natural logs, and just leave them there to rot down.
4. Create a water feature
If you have room, then a small pond will be gratefully received by all wild creatures. If they’re not using it to live in, such as frogs and newts, they’ll be using it to drink from. Install a sloping ramp into the pool from the bank so that any clumsy hedgehogs can get out again! Adding a small rock pile at one end will provide welcome shelter for toads and other amphibians.
5. Fill up feeders
Wild things will choose your garden over others if the standard of restaurantation is up to scratch, so place and fill up bird feeders. Hedgehogs like a little dried cat food in a shallow saucer. If you haven’t got a water feature, offer a shallow dish of water as well.
Put kitchen fruit and vegetable trimmings and any suitable garden waste in a compost bin. Not only will you be making your own pesticide-free compost, but you’ll also be making a home for insects which will then go on to be lunch for some of the garden’s other inhabitants.
7. Put up a couple of climbing plants
If you have a suitable wall, then climbers such as ivy and Virginia creeper will offer great nesting potential for birds and help provide shade for insects.
All images: (c) Pixabay