Gardens not only brighten up our lives but they also provide valuable habitats for wildlife. Here the Garden Team at Woolley Grange provide you with some top tips to make your garden more wildlife friendly.
The Wildlife Trusts tell us that the UK’s gardens cover a larger area than all of our National Nature Reserves combined, making them as important for wildlife as they are for our own wellbeing. With an increasing number of species becoming endangered, there has never been a better time to make your garden into a wildlife haven.
Take a look at these 10 easy ways in which you and your family can have some fresh air fun making your garden more wildlife friendly:
1. Create a Wildlife Pond
However large or small, ponds play an invaluable role in creating a wetland habitat for species.
To make a mini pond, first choose your spot. It needs to be light, but not full sunlight all day.
You can dig a hole and sink your watertight container, or just have it sitting on top.
Leave some wood and stones against the container to allow amphibians to climb in and out. Add some gravel and stones, with stones piled up the side.
Wait for the rain to fill it up (or fill from a water butt). Plant with one or two water plants. We recommend a miniature waterlily, lesser spearwort, starwort or a flowering rush.
Watch and wait! Wildlife will come to your pond of its own accord. It is best not to introduce frogs, tadpoles, fish or even water from another pond as this can spread disease.
2. Build a Bug Hotel
Whether it's a boutique bug B&B or a full blown bug resort, frogs, ladybirds and other insects will love it!
Choose a place in sunlight or light shade. Use old pallets and fill the gaps with sticks, bits of bark, straw, earth, small stones and fir cones - whatever is lying around. A roof of tiles will keep things dry.
3. Create a Wildlife Area
If you can leave a corner of your garden unmanaged, you’ll be amazed at how much wildlife moves in. The perfect excuse to ‘neglect’ a part of your garden and not mow the lawn or weed the beds.
4. Lawn Management
If you can resist the urge for that large and perfect mono-culture lawn, the wildlife will thank you a hundred times over.
You can still have a nice lawn if you mow less at the mower’s highest setting and manually remove any thistles and docks rather than artificial feed and weed solutions.
Consider only mowing paths through and letting the rest grow and, when you do mow, remove grass cuttings and compost to keep the nutrient levels low.
5. Create a Mini Meadow
To create a mini meadow you first need to understand your soil type and how much sun the area gets.
You can then choose a suitable meadow seed mix from a reputable supplier.
Alternatively, leave your existing grass to grow for the first year and see which wild species naturally colonise the area but ultimately you ideally only want the grass to represent 20% of the planting, so you may need to remove turfs to achieve this.
6. Hedgehog Holes
Hedgehogs are one of the species that have suffered a large decline in recent years.
One way to improve their survival is simply to cut a 5inch square hole in the bottom of your fence to allow the hedgehogs to move freely from garden to garden in search of shelter and food. So simple, yet so effective.
7. Plant a Tree (or Trees)
Trees not only help reduce carbon in the atmosphere but are also great habitat for birds, bats and insects.
If you have a small garden, look for trees on dwarf stock or consider large flowering shrubs.
Once it’s grown a bit, place a deckchair below and enjoy a bit of forest bathing – so good for the soul!
8. Bird Boxes
Sometimes it’s easier to move into a readymade home rather than building one from scratch.
Identify species that live in your area, select (or build) a suitable box and then place in a ‘safe from cats’ position about 2 metres or more off the ground.
The box should face north-east to south-east, to avoid prevailing wet winds and the heat of the midday sun.
Clean out the boxes in the winter to avoid a build up of parasites.
9. Build an Insect Hibernacula
A grand word for a pile of rotting logs or stones. Place this near your pond or in the wildlife area of your garden.
Insects, amphibians and reptiles will hibernate here in winter and bask on top in the summer.
10. Flowers, flowers, flowers!
We’ve all heard about the decline of bees and other pollinating insects.
Do your bit by planting flowers with single open heads that allow the bees to easily feed on their nectar and pollen.
Different species of bees have different favourites that flower at different times of year, so the greater variety you can grow the better.
Some of our favourites are flowering bulbs, dahlias, lavender, buddleia, catmint, rosemary and salvias.
Best of luck and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Woolley Grange gardens soon!