Choose Your Plants with Wildlife in Mind
The plants that you introduce to your garden will have a huge effect on how much wildlife you attract, so it’s best to plan ahead when creating or refreshing an outdoor space. Sweet smelling flowers like roses and honeysuckle will entice creatures to come and investigate the appealing scent. Native hedgerows will appeal to local wildlife, so do some research before you plant your parameter borders. If you have space, an oak tree not only looks beautiful but offers a safe haven for large and small animals and critters.
Thicken Hedges and Lengthen Grass
Providing cover is the simplest and most effective method for attracting mini beasts; they’ll really appreciate somewhere to shelter from the elements and predators, as well as having somewhere safe to sleep. By allowing your grass to grow longer, and adding density to your hedges you’ll be proving much-needed cover for small creatures. Thick hedges also provide shelter and a safe place to nest for birds, encouraging them to make your garden their home.
Whenever you’re trimming foliage or cutting your lawn, take care and try not to disturb nesting wildlife as much as possible. Once you have created safe havens, it’s important they remain exactly that.
Provide Food Sources
Natural food shortages are a constant danger for birds, so adding a bird feeder to your garden will help local species survive. Make sure you position your feeders out of harm’s way – keep them at least two meters away from cover and be sure that pets or children can’t reach. Once birds start to feed in your garden, keep up your routine as they will become used to it and will time their visits accordingly. Any plant that grows berries will provide an additional natural source of food for our feathered friends.
Small creatures tend to prefer plants that grow in the sun rather than the shade, and anything that grows at the edge of shrubbery or borders is always popular, so bear this in mind when adding to your garden. Insects and bees love flowers and the nectar within, so aim to provide a good variety all year round. Check for the pollinator logo on plant packets to get guidance on what to buy.
Create Lots of Hiding Places
A bird box is a great way to attract birds to your garden at any time of the year. By adding these small structures to your garden, you are creating safe spaces for them to shelter from the elements and to raise their young. In return, you’ll benefit from having constant companions throughout the year, and you can even fit a camera inside your box for ultimate bird watching. When fitting your bird box (or multiple bird boxes, if you are hoping to attract more than one species), position it in a quite area at least 1.5 meters above the ground, to ensure that occupants are safe and undisturbed. Be sure to keep the bird box hospitable by cleaning it out, but never disturb it when it’s occupied.
Useful insects, beetles and centipedes appreciate hiding places such as dense foliage and grass piles, which is a great excuse to put off tidying your ‘garden litter’. Delay cutting back your perennials in autumn, and during winter when plants are sparser, arrange piles of logs, stones or bark around your garden to create perfect spaces for hibernation.
Add a Water Feature
Larger garden wildlife such as frogs and toads are attracted by a pond, and if you can entice them into your garden they will repay you by eliminating slugs and snails; both of which love to feast on your plants. If you don’t have enough space for a pond, consider adding something smaller like a bird bath or water feature. Both of these options will entice beautiful birds and butterflies, as well as critters that love to feed on various types of insects. Not only will your garden be protected, you’ll have lots of colorful creatures to enjoy.
The kinds of wildlife that you’ll attract will differ depending on where you live and the space that you have available. Talk to your local garden center or wildlife association to get advice on how to create a garden that creatures will love as much as you do.