Our natural landscapes are continuously changing as we endure the loss of more and more natural spaces to urbanisation. The difference you can make to wildlife populations, simply by creating a wildlife friendly garden, is huge. It’s not only beneficial to the animals – the enjoyment you will get from identifying the various new species that begin to visit your garden, is a reward in itself.
What should I include in my bird friendly garden?
A wildlife friendly hedge can provide all of the provisions above. Dense foliage is the perfect shelter for birds to nest in, branches decorated with an abundance of berries provide a welcome source of food, and plants with spiny foliage can protect birds from predators and keep their nests safe.
When choosing hedging to plant as a source of food, consider native hedging such as Hawthorn, to recreate the local ecosystem within your area as much as possible. Hedging plants, such as Yew and Privet, make great nesting sites for birds as the dense foliage creates a safe, warm environment in which they can shelter from the cold in the winter and breed during spring and summer.
Choosing a wildlife friendly hedge with spiky foliage, such as Blackthorn or Holly, provides a bushy habitat that keeps food sources and nests safe from predators, such as cats or other larger birds. Planting these hedges around the base of a bird table or hanging feeder can also protect unsuspecting birds as they eat.
Planting a mixed hedge is one way of achieving all of these features within a small area, and a large diversity of plants will increase the number of different species that visit your garden.
2. Food and Water
Whilst hedging with berries is a wonderful source of food for birds, sometimes this isn’t enough. Feeders and bird tables can attract many different species of bird to your garden and provide them with a fuller food source. Spread your feeders and bird tables throughout the garden, creating different levels to accommodate different species of birds. Birds become reliant on food sources, so make sure you keep your supply steady and regular.
When it comes to providing a source of water for your garden birds, remember to keep it topped up. Even a small bird bath will supply enough water to drink and wash in and will give you an animated wildlife show to watch all year round. Making sure your bird bath is clean will avoid disease and illness and is more likely to attract attention.
See our selection of bird friendly plants.
What should I include in my hedgehog friendly garden?
There are 14 species of hedgehog, but the British native hedgehog Erinaceus Europaeus is the one you might spot in your garden at night.
The name gives it away – hedgehogs like to sleep, breed and forage in woodland edge environments with hedges, greenery, compost heaps, and plenty of garden leaves. A garden that is too tidy and full of slug pellets unfortunately means no food available for them.
2. Food and Water
Hedgehogs are attracted to gardens with a good food supply. Native insects, slugs, snails, beetle and worms are their natural diet, but supplemental feeding is very welcome. Native shrubs, low growing foliage and flowers will pull in the insects and hedgehogs will follow for a meal.
A shallow, heavy bowl of fresh water is important too because hedgehogs tend to put their front feet on the rim which results in a drenching and all that precious water is wasted.
What should I include in my bee friendly garden?
Providing ‘bee hotels’ is a great way to boost bee diversity in your garden. A bee hotel is a collection of hollow stems and wood arranged in a container for solitary bees to nest in. Solitary bees lay their eggs in the hollow cavities, leaving a small supply of food for the larvae to eat. The larvae then hatch, pupate and emerge from the stems. Always position bee hotels in full sun – Gardeners’ World Magazine.
2. Food and Water
Bees play an essential role in our eco-system and they need all the help they can get. Planting wildlife friendly shrubs and hedging plants are a great way to attract bees and butterflies to your garden. One of the biggest challenges for bees today is the lack of food, so planting hedging and plants are a great source of food. Leaving areas in your garden untouched allows the plants to grow a little wild meaning there’s an even greater source of food.
It’s easy to forget that many of the plants we consider weeds actually do a brilliant job at supporting wildlife. Lawn clovers and even dandelions will attract and provide pollen and nectar for bees.
See our selection of bee friendly plants.
What should I include in my frog friendly garden?
Frog-friendly gardens often include a small pond. Frogs need lots of moisture in their environment and a small frog garden pond offers a safe home for them to rest, feed and reproduce as the conditions are perfect for them to lay eggs. Garden ponds make ideal habitats for tadpoles as they provide shade to keep the water from getting too hot, protection from predators and algae for food. There has been a dramatic decrease in ponds throughout the British countryside, meaning garden ponds and other water features have an increased importance for wildlife.
Frog ‘hot spots’ are an effective alternative for gardens where ponds just aren’t feasible. Arranging log piles, compost heaps, stones or even getting creative with the family and designing your own frog and toad abode, will provide good shelters that make sustainable conditions accessible to frogs.
2. Food and Water
Frogs are one of nature’s best pesticides as their diet consists of snails, slugs and other insects that like to feast on our plants, making them the ultimate ally to keep the bugs at bay.
They are extremely sensitive to chemicals in their environment so avoid using chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides for gardening activities. Instead, allow frogs to do what they do best and hunt those garden pests, while fertilising your garden with natural sources of nutrients found in compost.
With a carefully thought out garden design, a wildlife friendly garden should include plants that offer numerous benefits contributing to the survival of wildlife at this time of year.
Incorporating plants that flower, produce berries and have a dense structure into your garden design, will offer a haven for wildlife searching for a home this winter, such as the following:
The characteristics of these hedge plants offer a sheltered habitat with accessible food sources that will certainly facilitate the survival of wildlife through the frosty season. For those plants that produce food, consider delaying pruning if it will remove seeds or fruit that will cater to birds and small mammals. Not only do these hedging plants help wildlife, but the splash of colours and attractive texture create a spectacular garden feature.
We often feel guilty for neglecting our gardens; however, this is the best thing we can do for wildlife. Letting our gardens go a little wild has many benefits, providing shelter for wildlife where they can nest and stay warm and food from berries on un-pruned hedging. You can literally let nature do the work for you to help our wildlife.
If you have any questions about this topic, or anything else relating to your garden, please tweet us @hedgesdirect or follow us on Facebook and we’ll be happy to help.
You can call our expert gardening team on 01257 788 248 for friendly advice.