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Garden wildlife week 2021 is from the 31st May until the 6th June and I personally think that one of the best things about having a garden is the wildlife that visits. A garden is like a mini-ecosystem – there’s birds, worms, squirrels, frogs, bees etc. Ecosystems are incredibly important because they provide so many services. This is why it’s important to try and attract as much garden wildlife as possible. I’m going to share some ideas below.
If you don’t have a bird feeder, it’s likely no birds will visit your garden. In the winter, birds can struggle to find enough food which means it’s up to us to provide for them. There are quite a few different bird seeds you can choose from but I’d definitely recommend getting some fat balls – robins love these especially! Watch out for squirrels trying to steal birdfeed.
Bowl of water
In the winter months especially, ponds might freeze over which leaves animals getting dehydrated. The best way to avoid this is by putting out a bowl of water (if it freezes, replace it). This is also vital for the summer when they need more. A birdbath is good too but some birds + animals that can’t fly like to drink from the ground. While ground creatures need access to the water, put the bowl near a shrub or tree to ensure they don’t feel too exposed.
Not only are flowers beautiful to look at, but they are essential for attracting all kinds of wildlife. Bees and butterflies really benefit from flowers that have lots of pollen and nectar. If you can, try to plant a variety of flowers that bloom at different times of the year so that they always have pollen/nectar available. If you look at seeds in shops, they might have the RHS ‘plants for pollinators’ logo which are the best plants to buy. I recently learnt that bees love dandelions and you shouldn’t pick them – if you ‘need to’ then you should wait until other flowers have started to bloom and when there are fruit bushes available.
As well as this, it’s really important that you don’t use pesticides. There are plenty of natural pesticides out there that you can use instead. I think my mum uses garlic water which is really simple to make too. Another option is to create a habitat for the pest. For example, if beetles were bothering your plants, make a beetle bank. They will much prefer the new habitat & you won’t have harmed anything.
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If you don’t have a pond, you can create one – click here to find out how. If you don’t have space for a pond, a barrel will do -just ensure there’s a ramp so they don’t get trapped. At home, we have a tiny pond but it is still absolutely filled with animals. This year I counted 17 frogs! We had a lot of frogspawn too and some really big tadpoles now. Ponds invite a whole range of different animals. Firstly, they are somewhere for animals to drink – sometimes our cats drink out of our pond. Secondly, they are a habitat for so many, we get newts, dragonflies etc. Adding water plants like reeds will appeal to even more.
It’s harder to have a birdfeeder without trees – especially when you have pets that want to catch birds. Trees are also great for squirrels, I love seeing them jump from tree to tree. I think squirrels like peanuts best so if you have them out, they will definitely try and eat some. Trees are also key for birds to nest.
I remember when I was younger and was making a mud pie or a fairy garden, I would explore the garden and wonder why so many beetles and woodlice lived under damp wood on the soil. But it isn’t weird, it’s just their preferred habitat – where they thrive the best. You may not like beetles or fungi but they help recycle the soil and make it nutritious. Wood or logs can also create shelter for smaller animals like mice or hedgehogs.
Composting benefits lots of animals including us and it isn’t too hard to create a compost pile – find out here. Creating your own eliminates the fuel miles of bought soil whilst enriching your own soil for free. This appeals to slugs, snails, worms etc. They are an essential part of an ecosystem because the animals mentioned before are great prey for birds.
If possible, don’t use fake grass in a garden. Animals will definitely want to eat it and will instead be eating plastic that could have been easily avoided. Having artificial grass has a massive impact on your carbon footprint. I know that everyone loves a neat garden with short grass but leaving it to get a little longer gives shelter for wildlife. If you want to keep it short, maybe choose a section of the grass to keep longer.
I think I first saw this when I was on holiday in Italy in 2017. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and they seem to have grown even more because I see them all the time. You can buy a pre-made one*, a kit or just make your own with materials from your garden.
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I don’t see bird boxes* around as much anymore but I definitely remember making/painting one when I was younger. Bird boxes are safe places for a bird to nest and leave their eggs or babies whilst they hunt for food. What’s even better is that they may return next year.
How do you attract garden wildlife?
Best wishes, Cx