Make your garden a friendlier place for wildlife

Make your garden a friendlier place for wildlife

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It's wonderful to have a garden of any size to call your own, but have you ever thought about making a few changes to ensure your green space is a friendlier place for wildlife?

Doing this and encouraging in everything from frogs and toads to hedgehogs and birds is a fantastic way to create a miniature ecosystem, boosting local animal populations and helping potentially vulnerable species thrive.

There are also benefits for you, as not only will it give you plenty of entertainment to watch from your window (or a deckchair in good weather), but a wildlife garden will also require less management, as they're productive in their own right.

Here are a few tips that will get you started - why not take advantage of the good weather to put a few of them into practice?

Choose your plants carefully

There are some wonderful plants that will bring in bees, butterflies and insects, so try to introduce a planting scheme that incorporates them, rather than just going for the attractive species with double flowers (which pollinators might find hard to access).

We love honeysuckle, as birds eat the berries, moths adore the nectar (and it attracts bats) and the flowers produce a lovely scent on summer evenings. There are lots more wildlife-friendly climbers on our website here

For flowerbeds, try Sweet Williams, English Lavender, Bergamot and Weigelia. Don't forget some wildflowers too, as our native meadows are in decline; try our packs of mixed flower seeds for easy sowing of 22 varieties. 

Create tiny habitats

Some people like to have immaculately-kept gardens, but we'd discourage this in favour of a few wild areas. It doesn't have to be messy, but a small pile of logs or stones behind the shed and a patch of grass that you don't mow will provide shelter for lacewings, ladybirds, woodlice and plenty of other minibeasts, as well as amphibians like frogs, toads and newts. You might even get hedgehogs hibernating there in the winter.

Provide homes for birds and bats

Birds need somewhere to lay their eggs and rear their young every spring, while bats are in declining numbers, in part because of a lack of places to roost. You can cater for both if you put up a few nest boxes and bat boxes around your garden, which could be returned to every year. It will give you great pleasure in seeing the creatures flitting to and fro from their new homes, too. The Coucy Wooden Bat Boxes are among our bestsellers here at CJ Wildlife.

Allow for easy access

A major issue for British wildlife is not being able to get from one habitat to another because we keep our gardens self-contained and separate from our neighbours'. This is a particular issue for hedgehogs, which can travel up to a mile a night looking for food and a mate.

To allow them access without sacrificing your privacy, create tiny holes at the bottom of your fences or walls. They only have to be around five inches square and so won't let cats and dogs through. Do this by removing a single brick or cutting a little hole in a fence panel, or simply digging a channel underneath.

Plant a hedge

And if you're really dedicated and want a bigger project this summer, you could try planting a new hedge as an alternative to fencing, something that will attract birds, small mammals and insects.

To do this, dig a trench a metre wide and mix in some compost. Choose your plants to include a mixture of native species, including dogwood, hawthorn, blackthorn and hazel, then position them in a double row with the plants (or whips) around 30cm apart.

Fill in with soil and then water them well, then give them a chance to spring into life over the coming weeks. To maintain your hedge, keep it moist and mulch around the base to discourage weeds.

Each year, prune at least 2cm above the previous year's growth to promote bushiness and train the hedge into a slight A shape, so that it tapers slightly at the top and allows light through to the bottom.

There are lots of things you can do to make your garden a friendlier place for wildlife and ensure you do your best to look after some of Britain's favourite creatures.