How to attract wildlife into your garden
Wildlife is very important in maintaining a balance in nature from an ecological, economic, investigatory, and conservation of biodiversity standpoint. Because of habitat loss, climate change and pesticides, species such as stag beetles, hedgehogs, bats, song thrushes and sparrows are on the decline in the UK, but they can find refuge in people’s gardens, which can act as mini nature reserves.
Shannen Godwin, spokesperson for one of the leading plant and bulb companies in the UK, J Parker’s, says, “The Garden Wildlife Week is not about the big milestones you have or can achieve in the conservation of wildlife. Rather, it’s about the little things you can do. This starts at home. Simple activities such as growing your own plant and becoming a wildlife watcher can help contribute to the conservation and preservation of wildlife nationally, slowing down the risk the endangered species face. If you want to attract wildlife, you can learn how you can make a home habitat in your garden.”
Bringing the animals in
If you’re hoping to find out how to attract bees and birds, then our article on transforming your garden into a wildlife haven provides a detailed guide with some top tips on just how you can do this.
But what about other animals? What can you do to create a haven for them? The three essentials are – food, water, and shelter. For food, you can buy special feeds for different animals you wish to attract. For instance, you can get special feed for hedgehogs from garden suppliers, while a bag of unsalted nuts and seeds, root vegetables, and fruit would feed badgers well.
A pond, or any other water feature, will not only provide water but also diversify the ecosystem in your garden. You can keep fish in a pond plus attract frogs and insects such as dragonflies to your garden. These same installments can provide shelter for these animals as well, making them not just regular visitors but also inhabitants.
You can also have compost and piles of dead wood. These are magnets for grubs and beetles which in turn attract larger foragers in your garden.
- There are several pollen plants that attract ladybugs that tend to be yellow and white, such as Angelica, Cosmos and Fennel.
- Plant decoy plants that will attract aphids away from your desired bug free plants until the ladybugs remove them for you. Aphid attracting decoy plants could include: Early Cabbage, Marigold and Radish.
Ladybugs eat two things: insect pests and pollen, and there are several pollen plants that ladybugs like, including: Calendula, Chives, Cosmos and Marigold.
Did you know that attracting bats to your garden is one of the safest and most efficient methods for natural insect control? One little brown bat can eat 1,200 insects per hour.
A great bat attracting method is to build a bat house to provide a warm cosy shelter for the creatures. Since bats tend to set up colonies in the early spring, building a bat house is the perfect winter project! Some tips are:
- Use a rough, nontoxic wood (such as plywood or cedar) to make your box. The rough surface will make it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house.
- Place in a warm, sunny position for warmth
- Keep it close to a freshwater source (pond, stream)
- Support on a pole or the side of a building.
The key to attracting bats to your garden is to plant night-scented flowers, such as Yucca and Evening Primrose.
Attracting frogs to your garden is beneficial for the welfare of your plants. Frogs make great insect killers so why not attract some garden frogs to help with those little pests.
- Build toad houses – overturned flower pots buried lightly in the soil make great shelters.
- Avoid using pesticides in your garden. Frogs are sensitive to chemicals so use natural sources of nutrients in your garden such as compost.
- Keep pets away from the part of the garden set up for attracting frogs.
Toads and female frogs usually spend winter on land, under rockery stones (or in a log pile). Recommended rock plants are: Aubretia, Hardy Geraniums and Sedums.
Just like the shrew and the vole, the hedgehog is an insectivore with a voracious appetite. An adult hedgehog can eat up to 200 grams of insects per night, making the perfect pest controller in your garden. So, why not attract them to the garden with a few small tips and help these little creatures as their population has dropped in recent years. Here are some tips to draw these little creatures into your garden:
- Leave areas of the garden naturally unkempt with fallen leaves, twigs and dead vegetation, which they can use to build nests.
- Leave bowls of water out in the winter as hedgehogs drink lots of water. Top the water up regularly.
- Avoid using slug pellets as they are fatal for hedgehogs
Hedges provide a great habitat for hedgehogs as they provide free access between gardens, unlike walls and fences. Species with large deciduous leaves are great for hedgehogs collecting leaves for their nests. Here are some top picks: Beech, Berberis, Buddleia and Pyracantha.
You may also like
- 5 ways to turn your garden into a wildlife haven
- Pollinator friendly plants and displays for bees and butterflies
- 12 pretty plants for wildlife lovers