Our gardens have a number of different purposes. They’re a space to relax, to entertain and spend time with family and friends. They’re somewhere for our children and pets to play, or where we can make ourselves busy growing herbs or looking after flowers. However, our gardens are also somewhere we can help wildlife. Since we’ve all but destroyed their natural habitat in many areas, gardens are like little havens which allow them to not only survive but thrive. Here are a few ways you can invite them in and do your bit for nature.
Build A Pond
One of the best ways you can attract wildlife into your garden is to build a pond. Many of the water sources animals would have once used no longer exist. We have built cities and towns and created farmland over the lakes and bodies of water they would have once used. One way you can give back to nature is to give animals a constant and reliable access to water. It gives them a place to drink, somewhere for amphibians to breed and provides a sanctuary where native plants can grow too. Surprisingly ponds built in the winter will establish fastest, but there’s nothing wrong with building one any time of year. Garden centres and DIY stores will have all of the equipment you need to build your pond, you could even add lights and a water feature to it if you wanted to go all out. It makes a nice feature in the garden and is ideal for the wildlife too.
Get Rid of Pests Without Chemicals
As gardeners, we want to invite the right kind of wildlife in. However, it’s easy to attract pests too, which can cause all sorts of problems. Pests can breed rapidly and cause damage to property and other wildlife. Instead of using chemical warfare (which is unnecessary and can cause harm to other flora and fauna too) you can go down the non- toxic route. While birds are something you will enjoy seeing visit your garden, pigeons are one kind of bird that you don’t want to invite in. Their droppings can carry viruses and be hazardous to health, and can also cause structural damage to buildings and outbuildings too due to it being so corrosive. Bird repellent can be effective and is a non- kill method, use it along the eaves of buildings where pigeons most like to nest. Slugs and snails are another critter in the garden you don’t want to attract. They might seem harmless enough, but these little mollusks can pass lungworm to dogs (which can be fatal) and chew through all of your plants in a very short time. One effective slug and snail control method that doesn’t require using chemicals is to sprinkle gypsum powder, or use brambles. Slugs and snails can’t cross either, effectively protecting your precious plants. Clearing away any potential hiding places such as debris and weedy areas will help too. Instead of chemicals, you can use biological methods to get rid of some kinds of pests. For example, putting plants that attract ladybirds into the garden will naturally keep aphid numbers down. Aphids can distort growth and transmit plant diseases so are something to keep an eye on as a gardener.
Add Compost Heap
Building a compost heap is something everyone with a garden should do. It means you can break down biodegradable household and garden waste meaning less goes to incinerators or landfill- so is good for the environment. But as an added bonus, a compost heap will also be beneficial for wildlife. It provides a shelter for amphibians, can make a nesting site for hedgehogs and is useful for a wide range of insects. If you’re not much of a DIYer, you can buy compost bins ready made so it couldn’t be easier. It gives you somewhere to put your grass clippings and plant cuttings when you’re tidying the garden. If you have any waste fruits or vegetables, these can go on, along with things like cardboard, egg shells and tea bags. Just be sure to leave out cooked food, meat or dairy since these can interrupt the rotting process and attract pests. Once everything is well rotted you have rich, free compost to use in your garden!
Put Up A Greenhouse
As an avid gardener, you will already know the benefits of a greenhouse. They allow you to extend the growing season getting the most out of your plants, and by adjusting the temperature, you can also grow crops that wouldn’t usually thrive in your climate zone. They give your seedlings and young plants a safe place to establish, and somewhere you can put less hardy plants over the winter to stop them from freezing. All in all, a useful addition to the garden. However, greenhouses can also be useful for wildlife too. Many of the insects will actually protect your crops from pests. Spiders for example will prevent excessive numbers of flies from intruding your greenhouse!
Hang Bird Feeders
Hanging bird feeders or scattering some seed onto a bird table is a surefire way to attract them into your garden. Watching them come in can be really fascinating, and it gives you peace of mind that you’re doing your bit to help nature. Birds natural food supply is plentiful at the moment, but they will still be sure to visit if you are feeding them. It’s particularly important that you put bird food out over the colder months (and something everyone should be doing) since many birds now rely on human feeding to survive as their natural food dries up. If you’re worried about attracting pests such as rats or pigeons, use bird feeders designed for smaller birds. That way you know they’re being fed, and the food isn’t being eaten by pests. Clearing away any leftover food at the end of each day will protect against pests too.
Build Hedgehog Homes
At this time of year hedgehogs are thriving, however, between November and March, they go into hibernation. Just before this time, they need as much help as they can get to survive the winter, plenty of food and a safe place to sleep. You can buy hedgehog homes, or leave an area of your garden wild to encourage them in. If you know you have hedgehog visitors, leave some dog or cat food out for them so they can build up their fat supplies.