How to create a wildlife-friendly garden
Posted 05 December 2016
A recent project undertaken by more than 50 UK wildlife organisations has shown that more than half of all wildlife species in the country are in decline. While tackling this terrifying problem is a big issue requiring significant government and national input, there’s never a bad time to start doing your bit – right from your very own surroundings.
Choose the right flowers
Flowers are a mainstay of most gardens in Britain, but choosing the right kind can attract the most vulnerable insects. We’re all no doubt aware of the importance of bees in our ecosystem, as well as the danger that these insects are in. Fortunately, planting certain flowers will attract bees to your garden and encourage them to breed. The best flowers for bees are those readily produce pollen and nectar for long periods. Some flowers, such as the Michaelmas daisy and ivy, bloom particularly late in the year and can continue to attract bees well into the autumn and early winter.
Dig a pond
A brilliant way to maximise the biodiversity of your garden is to install a pond. However, you don’t want to keep fish in this pond as they will simply eat any of the wildlife that you’re looking to attract. Instead, let water plants naturally take over the water and provide a home for amphibious creatures such as frogs and newts. You’ll also attract aquatic insects and provide water for small birds and wildlife. Even if your garden is small or you don’t have the means to actually dig a pond, you can still provide a small pool of water in a large bowl or upturned bin lid. However small, a little bit of water in your garden will contribute significantly to your wildlife mission.
Embrace your dead wood
An even simpler way to attract wildlife is by leaving a pile of dead, unpainted and unstained wood in your garden. Rotting wood isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing addition to gardens and so those creatures that thrive on its presence can find homes hard to come by in developed areas. However, if you have scope for a compost heap and wood collection area in your home, you could be doing a favour for all manner of insects. A ready supply of these animals at the bottom of the food chain, in turn attracts birds and larger animals.
Try larger plants
It’s perhaps quite obvious, but larger plants such as trees and shrubs can house more wildlife than smaller plants. With this in mind, you might want to look into planting a large tree, if your garden will allow. If you’re fortunate enough to already have a mature tree in your garden, make sure you take care of it and contact a tree surgeon if necessary. Taking steps to avoid disease to the wood can help it flourish – providing a home to wildlife in the process.
Don’t be harsh on pests
Any house-proud individual will know that keeping a garden looking fresh and tidy can be a labour-intensive job. Often this can involve using pesticides to take care of your plant life. However, research has increasingly shown that chemical pesticides can have far-reaching negative effects, poisoning the soil and inadvertently killing uncommon wildlife.
Fortunately, it is possible to both protect against pests without disrupting the ecosystem or releasing harsh chemicals into your garden. All pests will have a natural predator which sits above it in the ecosystem – for insects, this is often a type of bird. Attract these predators by planting particular flowers or offering food and nesting spaces for birds. This will help keep your wildlife garden under control without disrupting the natural order.
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