Natural Habitats for British wildlife are rapidly decreasing, why not help by turning your garden into a wildlife haven in 2011. A diverse eco-system in your garden can provide habitats for a wonderful variety of wildlife and is a great form of natural pest control.
The important needs of wildlife in any garden are shelter, protection from predators, food and water. We have put together a few handy hints to provide these and get your wildlife haven going.
- Firstly, GO ORGANIC. Reducing the use of pesticides will encourage more insects and birds to visit your garden.
- Leave a wild corner in your garden. This doesn't need to be a 'messy area' pick a place you don't normally go, like behind the shed or compost heap. Let nettles grow, these have many uses for the organic gardener and they can attract beneficial insects and butterflies. Nettles and brambles also provide cover for larger mammals like hedgehogs.
- Build a pond. Even a small pond or water feature can provide a drink or a habitat for many species. Native wetland and bog plants also thrive in areas around ponds. By encouraging more frogs into your little oasis you can keep the rampaging slugs at bay.
Plant a bee border. The British bee population has suffered massive losses over the past few years and bees are vital for the pollination of our plants. Try planting a range of nectar rich and native plants, here are a few ideas;
Plant a butterly border. This border will need plenty of sun and shelter. Butterflies love nectar rich plants. Why not try the following;
- Make a mini meadow. Leave part of your lawn unmown, this will act as protection for frogs, mice and snakes. Why not try planting some native grasses and wild flowers too as these are rapidly declining from our fields.
- Leave some leaf litter. Leaf litter makes a great mulch but can also provide some shelter for some insects and spiders over winter and will also attract ground foraging birds.
- Plant a hedgerow or grow a thicket. They can provide shelter, nesting sites, food and protection. Hawthorns, roses and blackberries are all great for this.
- Create extra wildlife habitats. Supplement your natural habitats with bat and hedgehog boxes, nesting boxes for birds, lady birds, butterflies and lacewings. These can be added to even the smallest garden and can make a huge difference to the populations in your area.
- Grow climbing plants to provide shelter, roosting and breeding sites for birds. Ivy is great for this and will also provide nectar for insects in Autumn and fruit for birds in late winter.
- Create a log pile. Don't just burn or throw away dead wood it can attract beetles, beneficial insects and mosses. Frogs and toad also enjoy a nice damp pile of logs for shelter too.