5 ways to have a wildlife friendly garden
With numbers of insects and animals declining, creating a haven for wildlife in your garden is a great way to protect species struggling in the wild. Generally, we think of wildlife roaming around the countryside, but our gardens can give wild animals and insects somewhere to call home. By making a few small changes at home, you’ll be amazed at how soon you can have a wildlife friendly garden. Discover our tips on how to create a wildlife garden yourself.
1. Plants and flowers
Wondering what plants attract wildlife? Depending on the type of wildlife you’re trying to attract, there are some beautiful plants you can put into your wildlife friendly garden. These are some of our favourite plants to choose:
- Sunflower – looking to attract birds into your garden? Sunflowers produce lots of seeds that birds can feed on, and their bright yellow florets will attract all sorts of curious wildlife into your garden. Sparrows, finches and tits are most likely to be impressed by the sunflowers in your garden.
- Foxglove – foxgloves are a favourite of bumblebees. Their pink flowers and nectar supply makes them really attractive for bumblebees. But be warned: foxgloves are not pet friendly outdoor plants, in fact they are poisonous to humans and pets.
- Thyme – thyme is ideal for gardens with gravel, offering good ground cover. Thyme is very low maintenance and can grow where most other plants won’t. Popular with beetles, it can provide them with good shelter.
When choosing plants for your garden, make sure to choose ones that offer nectar and pollen from Spring until Autumn, to best attract as many insects as you can, and make sure they keep coming back!
2. Bird Box
A great way to have an animal friendly garden is by installing a bird box. They give birds visiting your garden shelter – both from the weather and potential predators. A bird box is one of the best ways to attract birds to visit your garden, and increase the chances of them returning. Your bird boxes don’t have to be overly elaborate – a simple house-shaped box with a hole will do. Of course, it’s up to you if you want something a little more eye catching. Make sure to put your bird box high up in a tree, and be sure that it is suitably sheltered, to offer those feathered friends extra protection.
As well as bird boxes, you might consider adding bird feeders with a selection of delicious nuts and seeds. There are plenty of options, whether you want a hanging feeding basket or a freestanding bird table. During the winter months, remember to replenish supplies, for the non-migrators visiting your garden.
Did you know? Birds can help with conservation in your garden. Birds love to eat seeds from weeds, meaning you don’t have to do the weeding as often. They also help with pollinating your flowers, keeping your garden in bloom.
You can attract all sorts of wildlife into your garden with a pond. You might be thinking that you need a big garden to have your own pond – but with a little creativity, you could have wildlife-attracting pond in any sized garden. Want your own mini pond?
You will need:
- • Container to hold water
- • Gravel & rocks
- • Small plants
- • Spade
Use any size container you like – a washing up bowl works wonders.
- 1. Decide where you want to put your pond, and dig a hole in the ground large enough to put it in.
Top tip: consider putting up a warning sign near to the pond, and make sure the kids know exactly where it is.
- 2. Place your container in the ground.
- 3. Line the outside of the container with your gravel and rocks. Make stepping stones around the outside to tempt the wildlife.
- 4. Fill your pond.
Top tip: avoid using tap water, because the nutrients in it can result in algae. Rain water is the best option. Try and collect rain water in the weeks coming up to installing your pond.
- 5. Arrange a selection of plants across your pond, including wide leaf plants for extra shade and protection.
Then, simply wait and see what wildlife comes to visit. Rather than bringing different creatures to your pond, let them come naturally. Frogs, toads and newts are most likely to discover your pond, but keep an eye out for dragonflies hovering around your tall plants.
Having your own compost has great benefits for your soil, and it provides shelter for all sorts of wildlife, such as worms, woodlice and frogs. What’s not to like?!
When starting your own compost heap, make sure you have a good compost bin. We recommend using wooden bins rather than plastic, to improve decomposition efficiency. A compost will take a lot of time, potentially months, but it’s a fantastic way to recycle both garden and some household waste.
Garden waste, uncooked fruit and vegetable peelings, eggshells and teabags are great to put in your compost. But did you know that adding unwanted cardboard is great for your compost? It breaks down slower, but offers more nutrients to your compost, such as carbon and fibre.
Avoid adding meat and dairy to your compost, as well as disposable nappies, cat litter and dog waste. These will make your compost smell, and potentially attract unwanted pests.
Every so often you should turn over your compost to let air in and speed up the decomposition process. Eventually, your compost will be ready to use. You can tell this by its dark colour, crumbly texture and sweet smell.
5. Encourage wildlife to visit
Following the steps above should help with knowing how to attract wildlife to your garden. There are some more minor ways to have a wildlife friendly garden as well – less of a project and more of a subtle change.
- Let an area of grass grow: if you have the space, mark off a section of your lawn as the wildlife zone, and let the grass grow. This will provide a habitat for all sorts of wildlife – lots of insects will lay their eggs in long grass.
- Don’t block your garden: if your garden is fenced off, leave small gaps at the bottom so that the wildlife can still come in and visit. If there’s no way through, frogs, hedgehogs and the like won’t be able to get through.
- Don’t worry about weeds: don’t think of them as weeds, but as wild plants. Wild plants provide extra food for insects - some of the smaller ones such as daisies and buttercups can make your flowerbeds even more attractive.
Following these simple tips will help you on your journey to having a wildlife friendly garden. From knowing what plants attract wildlife to how you can install your own mini pond, there is so much you can do to improve your garden’s ecosystem. Help prepare a wildlife and animal friendly garden with Gtech’s selection of garden tools.