Have you ever looked at your garden through the eyes of the wildlife that visits it? Probably not. You should though!
When I was sitting with my kids deciding what they would grow on their allotment plots this year, we talked about which flowers were good for pollinating insects. This led to a lovely discussion about what it must be like to be a bee, buzzing around all the gardens and deciding which one had the most tempting flowers to visit and take a sip from.
It wasn’t long before we were thinking about our garden through the eyes of other wildlife; what did we have to tempt birds, mice, hedgehogs, frogs, newts and other insects?
This fun role-play got me thinking about how much more we could do to encourage wildlife to visit our garden and make a home there. Doing this is beneficial on so many levels. We’ll be helping our native species to thrive and, in some cases, survive; our garden will be healthier as a result; and it’s a fantastic way to get the kids involved and interested in the great outdoors on their doorstep.
Turning your garden into a desirable home for wildlife doesn’t have to be complicated, time-consuming or expensive. Here are some ideas for small changes that you can make which will have a big impact.
Providing a source of food and water all year round will ensure you get plenty of birds visiting your garden, in return they’ll do a great job of keeping insects like aphids at manageable levels. My kids love bird-spotting and take their job of topping up the feeders very seriously!
This doesn’t have to be grand or complicated; a mini pond will be enough to encourage frogs and newts to spawn – great news if you’d like less slugs and snails in your garden. You’ll also attract insects such as dragonflies and pond skaters which are great fun for the kids to study.
Perfectly manicured gardens aren’t what wildlife need, so let some areas of the garden get a bit untidy. Leave seedheads on some plants over Winter to provide a food source. Let some areas of grass grow long to provide shelter. Leave a small pile of fallen leaves in a quiet corner for frogs, toads, newts and centipedes to inhabit. It doesn’t have to all look scruffy, even the smallest area can make a big difference.
Choose plants that are irresistible to bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects and they’ll become a regular feature in your garden. Take a look at the RHS Plants for Pollinators resource for lots of inspiration.
If you’ve got enough room a small pile of logs will provide a perfect habitat for insects, mice, hedgehogs, slowworms, newts, toads and fungi. You could also make a bee hotel to help support your local bees.
There are also lots of fantastic wildlife activity sheets available from the Wildlife Trusts which are perfect for getting the kids involved.
We’ll be trying to build these ideas into our garden and allotment this year, it feels really good to be doing our bit to protect our native wildlife. Do you think you’ll be having a go too?