Attracting animals to your garden can provide a rewarding feeling as you know you are helping to ensure the survival of some of our nation’s most diverse family of birds, bugs and mammals.
Unfortunately, this year has seen our bee population drop by a third and if they were to become extinct, this would have a huge effect on our planet’s environment as they pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world. Here, we look at ways in which we can attract wildlife to our gardens to ensure the survival of such creatures.
In an ideal world, you’ll be able to create a space for a pond. This, no matter how big or small, will allow water plants to colonise naturally. It will also provide a welcome spot for amphibians such as newts and frogs to breed but do note that they lie shallower water than is generally thought. However, try not to add fish to your pond if it’s primarily for wildlife as they will eat anything that moves!
If you don’t have the space for a pond, why not look at adding a bird bath to your space? This will take up less room and provide our flying friends with a much-needed supply of clean and fresh water which is suitable for drinking and bathing. Where possible, set this up at ground level where they would most likely find water in nature, but make sure there’s an open area between the bath and your shrubbery so that the birds can easily escape any predators, such as cats.
Composting your garden waste can help both your plants and wildlife by speeding up the natural recycling habits of nutrients. It can make your soil healthy which will provide a great space for everything living and growing in it. Better still, this can be free and is easy to use, unlike if you were to import it from elsewhere. Compost heaps are great shelter for smaller creatures who appreciate the heat that is released by decomposition.
Grow a mix of trees and shrubs
Perhaps unsurprisingly, larger garden plants support more wildlife. By growing a mix of shrubs, trees and climbers, you can provide an area for food and shelter, including nests, for certain species of wildlife. Small trees and shrubs you should look to grow in your garden include rowan, elder, blackthorn and crab apple. These will offer a range of specialist native wildlife the support they need by providing for them – it will also supply you with a useful crop.
Choose the right flowers
It’s true that certain flowers will attract different species of wildlife. Wildflowers for example are great for bringing insects and pollinators such as butterflies and bees to your garden as they provide pollen and nectar which is crucial for food pollination. Lavender and thyme are great herbs that will help attract them. Elsewhere, purple loosestrife is an ideal wildflower for the soggier spots in your garden. Buddlea is another firm favourite of butterflies.
This is a pretty obvious option for attracting animals to your garden — feed them! However, it’s not as simple as just hanging a feeder. It’s important to place them in an accessible but safe area which is out of reach of predators. A traditional location would be hanging from a tree, but if you only have limited space, then look at placing it on hooks on an external wall. If possible, try to keep any feeders out of direct sunlight.
Put up nesting boxes
Birds need a safe haven during breeding season and a bird box is an ideal location to keep them sheltered and avoid disruption. It’s important to realise that different types of birds prefer different boxes, so be sure to do your research if there are certain species you’d prefer to attract.
Create a wilderness area
If your garden space is big enough, dedicate an area of wild lawn to entice mammals that feed on grass or insects. This should include a pile of dead wood and a patch of longer grass as this will encourage grubs and beetles, which will in turn bring larger foragers to your space. It could also include a rock garden that supports those plants and animals that have adapted to surviving in thinner-soiled areas.
So, there you have it. While there are many other ways in which we can help keep our wildlife thriving, add any of the above to your space and you can be sure to know that you are indeed doing your bit to help the environment around us.