If someone asked you what a safe haven for wildlife might look like, would you picture a nature reserve? A huge expanse of protected green belt? Or maybe even an enclosure that cares for animals that aren’t able to fend for themselves? These are all locations that focus on protecting and promoting local wildlife. But did you ever think that your own garden could be a safe haven too? Here are our tips on how you can create a wildlife friendly garden at home.
Creating a Wildlife Friendly Garden
#1. Hold Off On the Chemicals
Many of us use chemical pesticides in our garden in a bid to rid ourselves of the little bugs that eat our plants: aphids, mealybugs and slugs are renowned for chomping their way through vegetable patches and ruining flowers, but they actually play an important role in your garden.
Creepy crawlies and bugs such as these are a vital food source for birds, and by refraining from using chemicals to eliminate them you’ll leave it to local wildlife to feast on them instead.
If your garden is accommodating more pests than local wildlife is eating, consider using some eco-friendly deterrents to rid yourself of the problem. For example, you could wrap copper tape around your plant pots to deter slugs, or spread some ground bloodmeal on your soil to spook away hungry rabbits.
#2. Feed the Birds
Some species of birds are under threat in the UK and Ireland, so there’s never been a better time to brush up on your knowledge and help them out! Install a bird feeder that you can fill with nuts and seeds, and consider giving birds your scraps too.
They’ll happily eat cooked potatoes and rice (so long as you haven’t added salt in the cooking process), as well as the fat cut from hard meats.
If you have a problem with squirrels stealing food from the birds, consider installing a squirrel-proof bird feeder; many are weight activated and will close when squirrels try to access them.
#3. Help the Bees
If you didn’t already know, bees are an essential part of our food chain: one third of the food we eat wouldn’t be available if it wasn’t for bees! So, leave them alone if you can, and leave out sugary water to provide a tired bumblebee with extra energy after a long day collecting pollen and nectar.
You could also consider planting nectar-rich flowers in your garden, such as Sweet Williams, English lavender and jasmine.
#4. Dig a Pond
Many experts suggest that if you do nothing else at all to help wildlife in your garden, you should start by installing a pond. That’s because ponds encourage so much biodiversity in otherwise very urban areas. Dig one somewhere safely out of the reach of children and do your bit for your local ecosystem.
It’s a good idea to dig one side with a slope so that tired amphibians can easily enter and exit the pound. Also, consider making a shaded area close to the pond, under some rocks for instance, for baby frogs to visit on hot days.
Remember that kids should be kept safe near water if you do install a pond.
If you have a visiting hedgehog then help it out by leaving water or a rehydration solution of 1 pinch of sugar, 1 pinch of salt mixed in 1 cup of water. Do not feed hedgehogs milk or bread as it is bad for their digestion.
Hedgehogs help eat garden pests like slugs, so if you do have a prickly visitor then that’s a good sign that they are finding plenty of food in your garden.
They hibernate during winter months so you may only see them during summer late evenings. They are endangered nowadays, so whatever you can do to encourage them is good for the garden and good for neighbourhoods.