With the popularity of shows like Springwatch and its seasonal cousin Autumnwatch, encouraging wildlife to adopt your garden as their own has never been easier. For experienced gardeners, the importance of planting pollinators and providing food and refuge in gardens for wildlife has been known for centuries and has been both a practical and a joyful task. The importance of supporting and encouraging wildlife is becoming more well publicised, with documentaries like The Vanishing of the Bees (2009), and campaigns by societies such as the RHS it is a problem that it is now in the public psyche.
Even if you only have a small garden, it’s possible to attract all sorts of wildlife. Put in some colourful flowers and you’ll encourage beautiful butterflies and busy bees. Put out the right type of food and you can attract everything from wrens and sparrows to colourful goldfinches.
And if you want to set up a nice little bug garden a few strategically placed pieces of wood can make a nice home for woodlice, spiders and dragonflies.
Create a Home for Wildlife
Generally, animals and insects don’t particularly like wide open spaces as they are more dangerous. Small birds in particular like the cover of bushes and trees, places where they can safely feed and escape if a predator comes along. Putting in a tree or bushes can make a big difference from the get go.
Installing some nesting boxes can also attract birds but make sure that you don’t place them too close together as many species are quite territorial. Also don’t put them near feeders as these will often be busy areas and birds like their homes to have a little peace and quiet, especially when they’re making little birds.
There are different kinds of food for different species of birds. Goldfinches, for instance, much prefer small, black niger seeds. It can take a while to attract them to your feeder but once they find out where a reliable food source is they will be return regularly. Other birds prefer sunflower seeds or fat balls, so having a good mix in your garden will bring in a wide variety. Birds are either tree feeders and need plenty of cover or are ground feeders like robins. Put in a water feature and you might even attract slightly rarer birds like grey wagtails.
If you want to attract insects like bees to your garden and help the environment, then plant some colourful wildflowers. Foxgloves, cornflowers, crocuses and globe thistles are good choices. A wild flower garden can look absolutely brilliant when everything blooms in early to mid-summer. Not only will it attract bees but wandering butterflies as well.
Don’t be Afraid to Go Wild
Letting certain areas of your garden get overgrown and a little wild is not a bad idea. Areas like this can attract animals such as voles, particularly if you put in some dead wood and garden debris so that insects are also attracted there.
If you want to bring in larger mammals such as hedgehogs, there are certain foods that you can put down. Avoid the traditional milk and bread as this isn’t actually very good for them. Provide a sheltered, covered space somewhere safe and put out some nuts, fruit and maybe the odd left over vegetable from the kitchen.
Putting in a water feature can be another way to attract wildlife, this time frogs and newts. Building a pond is not as difficult as it appears and there are plenty of kits now available at garden centres that are easy to install. As long as you keep it clean and have plenty of plants like water lilies you should be able to attract an exotic array of reptiles and even some colourful dragonflies.
Planning a Wildlife Friendly Garden
Whether you are an avid conservationist, a practical gardener or want to spend time spotting wildlife in your garden with your children, ensuring your garden is wildlife friendly is a great idea. Planning a garden does take time and effort but it will be well worth it in the end, there are a lot of quick ideas to get you started so don’t be afraid to experiment and don’t get disappointed if animals don’t come flying in straight away. A professional garden designer can really help you plan and integrate wildlife friendly spaces into your garden and provide innovative ideas about how to really get the most out of your garden.