Creating Simple Habitats for Garden Wildlife
Posted on January 26, 2016
You can create very simple and effective habitats to encourage all sorts of wildlife to make a home in your garden. From Ponds and Hedgehog Tunnels to Bug Hotels and Bee Friendly Planting, the options are endless and they don’t have to cost the earth or take up lots of space.
Simply choosing flowering plants and shrubs that attract wildlife and offer food is one of the first and easiest changes you can make to your garden. If you can try to choose plants that will provide a long combined season of pollen and nectar for example using crocuses which flower in early spring along with Ivy which is late bloomer and could provide food into the early winter months. Although native species are advisable there are many non-native species of fruit trees that offer food and shelter for wildlife as well as a crop for you!
A mix of flowering plants, small trees and shrubs provide the best and broadest selection of food and shelter for all sorts of wildlife and obviously bigger and more mature trees provide habitats for larger species. Great native options include hawthorn and blackthorn along with crab apple, elder and rowan.
The RHS has a brilliant guide called Perfect for Pollinators which is a great place to get ideas and inspiration on the best plants to choose.
Just Add Water:
From a small bird bath to a large pond with native plants, one of the best ways to add diverse wildlife to your garden is to add water.
You don’t need to commit to having a huge pond, a tiny space can be easily adapted and a large pot or even an upside down dustbin lid popped in a quiet spot, can be made into an ideal water based habitat.
If your pond is there to attract wildlife to your garden then avoid stocking it with fish as they can be predators for the wildlife you are trying to attract! Ensure your pond has a sloping side to allow and entry and exit point.
What do Butterflies Want & What do Bees Need?
Attracting bees and butterflies to your garden is as simple as:
- Planting nectar rich plants, herbs and flowers in sunny spots in your garden. Start with Thyme, honeysuckle and English Lavender and build from there.
- Don’t use pesticides or chemical sprays in your garden if you can avoid it.
- Make a simple bee hotel using short lengths of bamboo canes. The Eden Project Website has a great Insect Home Tutorial if you need one, the picture above is one of their brilliant creations
- Plant a Buddleia (Butterfly Bush) this shrub will grow almost anywhere and will attract dozens of beautiful visitors to your garden, although it will need a good prune in Springtime
- And don't forget The Big Butterfly Count organised by the Butterfly Conservation
Help for Hedgehogs:
If you are having walls or fences installed or repaired in your garden, consider making provision for a small hedgehog tunnel so that you can encourage these fascinating little night-time visitors to use your garden.
The Wildlife Trusts has some great tips on helping out hedgehogs.
Some other simple ideas:
- A pile of dead or decaying logs provides ideal cover for Stag and bark beetles and their grubs – these beautiful bugs are becoming increasingly rare and we need to protect them.
- Pop up a bat box and a couple of birdhouses if you have larger more mature trees that can provide shelter for larger species.
- Lengths of hollow canes tied together in bundles can make a perfect spot for ladybirds to nest.
Have fun with the new additions to your garden and don't forget to keep track of all your new visitors with photos and a wildlife journal.