Posted 25th Jan 2018
Creating sanctuary and shelter for wildlife in your garden is a great way of finding out about the nature in your area, and helping to preserve the habitats and food these creatures need to survive and thrive
Making your garden wildlife friendly doesn't mean you need to leave it to grow - in fact, every garden from a small plot to a big family garden can be home to nature by following a few key factors.
Garden room specialists www.oecogardenrooms.co.uk have some simple tips to help nature out, including creating different habitats, places for animals to breed, taking shelter and providing feeding areas to create the perfect wildlife friendly garden.
Even the smallest garden can be a valuable habitat for wildlife to thrive. It's a good idea to introduce as many different habitats as you can, without going overboard and packing too much in.
There are many ways to introduce microhabitats into your garden, providing a diverse range of homes for insects, invertebrates and animals to shelter and feed as nature intended. Lawns that are left to grow a little are ideal for insects and minibeasts, as well as an eating ground for the birds that feed on them.
By planting borders and bushes populated with native flowers and shrubs, you will get a rich source of food for butterflies and bees, and provides small mammals and birds with seeds, berries and shelter. Trees and hedges will also offer shelter and cover for mammals and nesting sites for birds to raise their young.
Water features and ponds will provide the ideal habitat for an array of wildlife, from amphibians and minibeasts to bathing birds.
Foraging and feeding
One of the most important features of a wildlife friendly garden will be having a variety of places for animals to forage for food. There are a range of ways this can be done - either by providing the food yourself (this will be especially good in the winter months as food becomes scarce) or by letting nature supply the food.
Keep your eyes peeled and look at planting native flowers and berry bushes that will flower and seed during different times of the year. This will subsequently provide an array of natural food for animals and insects that will forage during different periods. There will be a variety of colourful nectar-rich flowers and plants that will attract bees, butterflies and other insects to your garden too.
Providing a source of clean, safe water will also be important for a wildlife friendly garden - this can range from a big pond to a small fish, but water will be as important during the summer and winter.
Breeding space and shelter
Wildlife will also need a safe area to breed and shelter. Bird and bat boxes, hedgehog houses and insect houses will all be great ways of introducing artificial shelters into the garden, but natural shelter is the best in terms of expense and conservation. Trees, bushes and hedges will be ideal havens for birds, small mammals and insects alike, and provides cover from predators and a place to rear young.
Just let a small part of your garden overgrow, creating natural cover and shelter for a variety of insects, invertebrates and small animals - if you're looking to cut back any overgrown areas of the garden, wait until early spring. This allows wildlife to find a spot to shelter from the cold.
There has been a big push in recent years for the UK to consider the environment - it's no different when it comes to the welfare of our wildlife. There are many actions impacting on the environment and wildlife in particular, meaning care needs to be taken when choosing materials for our gardens.
Making and using your own compost will not only be a great way to recycle but can also encourage a healthy diversity of wildlife in your garden. Composting will improve the soil structure and is a great breeding ground for tiny invertebrates and fungi, which in turn attracts birds and small mammals.
If your garden contains a pond or water feature, don't use the garden hose to fill them up - instead, use rainwater collected in water butts and barrels as pond-life prefer this. You should also avoid using pesticides in the garden at all, opting for a non-toxic and non-chemical alternative.