No matter the of size your garden, it can be a haven for wildlife – insects, bees, birds and wild creatures. Even a window box can attract wildlife. By choosing the right plants and using the best wild-life friendly practices every garden will be able to encourage and build wildlife diversity. Joy Grey shares some ideas to make your garden home to a range of creatures.

Don’t be too neat and tidy

Your garden doesn’t have to be a mess to be wildlife friendly. Find a space that you don’t mind being less tidy where twigs and leaves can be left to supply food and habitat for many species. Try to leave perennials and grasses uncut through the winter giving seeds for birds and shelter for hibernating animals such as hedgehogs, frogs and newts. Think about the back of the garden shed, hidden corners and behind borders.

Install a pond

Even the tiniest of ponds will quickly and easily attract wildlife. Try sinking a tub to entice dragonflies, water beetles, frogs and more. In turn these will attract more wildlife and expand your eco-system providing sustenance for other creatures and creating a self-sustaining circle. Birds will very soon visit to drink and bathe. 

Create a wildlife corridor

Wildlife corridors help ecosystems expand and thrive despite their close proximity to humans. Most gardens are enclosed and separated from their neighbours – each supporting their own little ecosystem. If neighbours co-operate and open a very small gateway – even just 25cms, then a series of gardens can potentially become a large area of many hectares. Local populations of hedgehogs, frogs, toads, shrews, beetles and all manner of creeping creatures can then travel and a larger area for living and hunting without encountering the dangers of roads.

Do you really need to use chemicals in the garden?

Gardening with chemicals is potentially very harmful to wildlife. Spraying pests can often kill predators too. Try to use alternative measures such as manual barriers, good hygiene, companion planting or even physical removal. Ensuring that plants remain healthy will also help their resistance to pests and diseases.

Choose the right plants for your plot

Pollination is carried out by bees, butterflies and other insects and is vital for seed and fruit production. Ensuring the flowers you grow in your garden provide optimum amounts of nectar and pollen which are easily accessed is beneficial. Plants with simple, single flowers are much easier for insects to access. Growing plants that will give a long season of flowering is equally important – even into winter. Include spring flowering bulbs and winter flowering plants such as heathers and mahonias.

Diversity is key

Try to ensure that you have a wide variety of plants, shrubs, climbers, hedging plants and trees in your garden. A mature tree will support a whole ecosystem – offering food (flowers, fruit, seeds and nuts), nesting sites and cover for a range of insects, birds and small animals. Hedges and dense shrubs are particularly sought after by birds but remember to respect their nesting season when it comes to hedge cutting.

You don’t have to mow the whole of the lawn!

A neatly mown lawn is a green desert for biodiversity! Even a modest reduction in lawn mowing can boost wildlife, increase pollinators and save money! Try to reduce how often you mow, perhaps leaving some areas unmown and allowing wildflowers to flourish. You could mow pathways through the uncut areas.

Give them a home

It’s amazing how quickly wildlife will appear in a garden once there’s a home for it. Add bug hotels, bird boxes, bat boxes, hedgehog houses and more, but bear in mind that they must be appropriately sited. Ensure bird boxes won’t be raided by cats and that they are appropriately placed to avoid the worst of the elements.

The Grey Cottage, Goose Green, Gullane EH31 2AT
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