Autumn is a great time of year to clear foliage and junk from your garden. However, it’s getting colder outside, which means wildlife will be taking refuge from the elements. It’s important to ensure you don’t injure them when clearing your garden.
People often use this time of year to rake up fallen leaves, remove moss build-up, and carry out general garden jobs to keep their garden in pristine condition for the winter months. If you haven’t tidied up the garden over summer, overgrowth can make your outdoor space look pretty shabby. But small animals, such as hedgehogs, will often take shelter in your garden build-up, and it’s important to be mindful of this.
Wildlife experts have warned that moving a build-up of garden waste and plants, especially in the evenings, can be extremely dangerous for small animals such as hedgehogs. It is advised that experienced specialists such as Acorn Environment Services are best suited for your garden clearance.
Garden Clearance can include green waste removal, grass and hedge cutbacks, removal of garden shrubbery, and disposal of sheds and outdoor furniture. It is completely acceptable to clear away any waste from your garden, but make sure you look out for hedgehogs when clearing your garden rubbish away. They may have made a nice little home for themselves for the winter months.
There are lots of things you can do to ensure that hedgehogs can still stow away in your garden safely. Here are some easy ways to be wildlife-friendly when clearing your garden.
1. Create a hibernation house
Clearing your garden often involves getting rid of piles of leaves, damaged furniture, or a shed. Naturally, hedgehogs love to make those things their home for the winter months.
If you notice hedgehogs in your garden, you can make a small hibernation house using a strong box, some dry leaves, a cover made of plastic, and some twigs. Tuck it away in a quiet corner where it won’t be disturbed. Garden clearance doesn’t have to include this; it’s a small winter project that will keep you busy and benefit nature too.
2. Leave out some food and water
You can make hedgehogs’ hibernation a lot more comfortable by providing some food for them near their house.
Hedgehogs can eat tinned cat or dog food, and drink clean water. Never give hedgehogs milk or bread as it can make them very ill.
3. Make your garden hedgehog safe
You can also make some small changes in your garden to ensure it is safe for hedgehogs during their hibernation period.
A key change that will make a huge difference is to create access for hedgehogs in your garden fence or wall. This is often referred to as a ‘hedgehog highway’. If you have a fence, you can cut a small hole in it at the base, and if you have garden walls you can remove a brick at the base to create a hole. This will give hedgehogs access to your garden all year round.
Try not to use slug pellets too, as many are poisonous to hedgehogs. Alternative methods of slug and snail control – such as creating a physical barrier with copper tape or crushed eggshells – are far more wildlife-friendly. Remember also that hedgehogs eat slugs, so they will do some of the pest control for you!
If you have a pond, make sure there is a shallow area at the side, so that hedgehogs can climb out if they fall in.
Lastly, be vigilant for hedgehogs when clearing garden rubbish. You may have made them a small home, but they can still be pottering around your garden and could hide in your garden waste.
If you have questions about looking after hedgehogs in your garden, the Wildlife Trusts and RSPB have lots of online resources, or you could contact your local rescue centre for advice.
For lots of other garden wildlife tips, take a look at my post on how to make your garden wildlife friendly.