Why bother with wildlife gardening?

...because Britain’s gardens provide a safe haven for wildlife across the country.

  • There are 2.5 million trees in London’s gardens. That’s the equivalent of 30% of all National Trust owned woodland in the country.
  • Populations of birds such as blackbirds, dunnocks and thrushes are higher in people’s gardens than in the surrounding British countryside.

How to attract wildlife to your garden

  1. Create wildlife corridors. Fences and walls can be a real barrier to wildlife coming to your garden. Small mammals like hedgehogs, voles, mice and shrews need a way in and through your garden, because they naturally range widely in search of food. Try leaving a gap underneath your fence, which a hedgehog could squeeze through, or talk to your neighbour about removing a few bricks from a shared garden wall.
  2. Feed the birds all year round. Most of us tend to feed birds during the winter only, but birds often become reliant on birdfeeders as a source of food throughout the year. So make sure you stock up the birdfeeder during the warmer months too.
  3. Choose plants that will feed the birds. When choosing new shrubs and flowers, think about varieties that will offer food to the birds. For example, some flowers form seed heads that can be left on the stem throughout autumn, such as teasels, sunflowers and thistle-type flowers. Berries are a good bet, too.
  4. Plant flowers that attract insects. Choose new plants which attract birds, butterflies and the like. Remember, these aren’t just spectacularly beautiful flowering plants, but even more common bushes such as buddleia. If you search around you can find all sorts of different buddleia varieties which come in colours ranging from white to blue to pink. An easy way to get the right plants is to choose a packet of mixed seeds designed to attract butterflies
  5. Leave some mess. Insects and small mammals like to make their home in piles of wood or long patches of grass, so don’t be too keen to tidy everything up in the garden. Or you could create an insect home out of junk. Remember, if you want cute little mammals and birds in the garden, they rely on a thriving insect population for food, so make sure you don’t forget the bugs!

With thanks to Steve Burrell.

Photo: Mark Kilner