How do I create a wildlife friendly garden?
Wildlife Friendly Gardening
Here are some easy ideas for creating a wildlife friendly garden:
• The main tip for a wildlife friendly garden is to not keep it too tidy!
• Create a habitat pile out of fallen twigs rather than putting them in your green bin.
• Let shrubs grow down to the ground to create sheltered habitats for small mammals.
• Plant ground cover plants so wildlife can travel safely through the flower beds without crossing too much open ground.
• Choose hedges over fences: hedges provide shelter and allow small mammals to move freely from one garden to another. This is particularly good for hedgehogs and can be ideal for nesting birds too. Flowering and fruiting hedge plants e.g. Hawthorn and Blackthorn also provide pollen for bees and butterflies in spring and food for birds and small mammals in autumn.
• Leave a gap under fences; if you do put up a fence, leave a small gap underneath to allow Hedgehogs and other small mammals to move from one garden to another.
• Plant shrubs and perennials that are popular with pollinators. We all know about Buddleia being the ‘Butterfly Bush’ but did you know that bees and butterflies prefer simple flowers that are easier to get in and out of? Good plants for pollinators are Lavender, Borage, Scabious and Sage and lots of the spring bulbs too.
• Avoid using slug pellets; we don’t know for sure what the impact of slug pellets is on wildlife. But, as they reduce the slug and snail population, they reduce the food supply of the frogs, toads and hedgehogs. So if you allow the food chain to work naturally, slugs and snail numbers will be controlled by their predators.
Another great way to attract wildlife is to create a wildflower meadow in an area of your lawn, insects love them! You don’t have to have a big garden to have a wildflower meadow, just an area that is not mown. Wildflowers generally prefer poor soil that doesn’t have too many nutrients, so it can be worthwhile to scrape the topsoil and grasses off the surface and add sharp sand or horticultural grit. This process will improve the drainage, remove some of the grass seeds and reduce the nutrient content of the soil.
Alternatively you can buy wildflower turf. This garden we designed in Hertfordshire has a turfed wildflower meadow:
The colours change throughout the season depending on the plants in flower.
We have several wildflower meadows in our portfolio including: Office Garden, Barnet, and the one show above: Country Garden Design, Hemel Hempstead.
Ponds come in all shapes, sizes and styles and you don’t have to spend a fortune to create one. Water creates habitats for a whole different set of wildlife, so will really expand the number of species in your garden. It’s sensible to buy a solar powered oxygenator or have oxygenating plants. Either way, they do need to be cleaned out regularly, especially during the summer to avoid stagnation.