Garden wildlife has well and truly sprung into action over the last few weeks, with reports of people sighting a whole range of creatures and minibeasts during lockdown. The absence of many people out and about, instead confined to their homes, has also attracted more rarer types of wildlife to the UK.
So what are the best ways to attract wildlife to your garden? From planting a group of large trees to building a sizable pond, there are many to do this. But attracting different creatures doesn’t have to involve carrying out such big jobs. There are some much more simple ways to attract garden wildlife too. So whether you’re a nature lover, or want to excite and educate your little ones, here are our ten simple ways to attract wildlife to your garden.
Let the grass grow
Firstly, rather than worrying about regularly cutting the lawn, leave the mower in the shed and let it grow for a bit. Leaving the grass to grow for about a month or so, allows plants, like daisies to grow, which increases nectar production. In turn, this attracts insects like bees and butterflies to your garden. If the thought of leaving your garden unmowed makes you feel a bit sick, just choose a small patch of grass on your lawn, call that your wildlife area, and let that grow instead.
Build a compost heap
Compost provides a great home for many creatures, attracting everything from hedgehogs to frogs to slow worms - even grass snakes. Making your own compost heap and adding it to your garden will also naturally enrich your soil, which is good for everything living in it. When creating your compost, it’s wise to only add raw food, rather than that which is cooked, to avoid attracting rats.
Install a bird feeder or box
Attracting birds to your garden is important because they are a key part of its ecosystem. One simple way to do this is to install a bird feeder or nesting box. While a bird house or nesting box helps encourage different species of birds to breed in your garden, feeders will provide food for them and help them to thrive. Good tips include to put your nesting box in a high sheltered area to help protect birds. When it comes to your feeder, provide protein-rich food in spring and seeds in winter.
Set up an insect house
Attracting insects to your garden, such as beetles and spiders, helps control pests. It also encourages biodiversity - like the variety of plants and creatures - which helps to increase ecosystem productivity. This is where insect houses can help - attracting different types of insects by giving them somewhere to shelter. You can either buy one ready-made or, if you’re feeling creative, build your own with things like rocks, twigs and some rotting wood.
Create a rock pile
Just a simple pile of rocks in your garden can provide a small haven for wildlife. Rocky areas attract different insects, including key pollinators such as mason bees, as well as specialised wildlife that lives in poorer soil conditions. They can also attract birds and small mammals searching for food. Depending on the space you have available, you could keep your rock pile small or create a larger rock garden.
Grow more flowers
Different types of flowers provide food for many insects, so the greater variety you have, the better. Wildflowers, such as buddleia, foxgloves and bluebells, are particularly wise choices as they help attract bees and butterflies. When planting more flowers, try to stick to native types and avoid those which produce little or no pollen or nectar. This includes highly bred flowers that have two flowers per stem.
Climbers are one of the best types of plants for attracting wildlife. Amongst other things, they provide shelter for birds and insects, offer good sources of food and nectar for pollinators, and have leaves that are attractive to caterpillars. Types of climbing plants to consider growing include ivy - as it’s evergreen so provides habitat for wildlife all year round - as well as clematis, wisteria and star jasmine.
Don’t obsess over weeding
While some weeds can look unattractive in your garden, and are best to keep under control, many are a good source of food for flying insects, like butterflies and moths. So not being obsessive about getting rid of weeds, like nettles and buttercups, has its benefits when it comes to attracting garden wildlife. As they flower for long periods and in all weathers, weeds also provide food for insects at times when other plants cannot.
Leave gaps in your fence
If you want to bring a good variety of wildlife to your garden, you should make sure you give it easy access. A simple way to do this is to leave some small gaps in your fence. This ensures you don’t lock out things like hedgehogs and frogs, providing a way for such creatures to enter. It also allows different wildlife to come and go, while linking different habitats together.
Don’t be too tidy
Finally, it might be difficult if you’re very particular about your garden, but it’s worth trying not to keep it too tidy. This doesn’t mean you have to be messy - just not overly neat. Letting things grow a bit wild here and there, and not sweeping up piles of leaves and twigs, all helps to increase biodiversity. It creates new habitats and provides more places for different species to shelter and hide.
We hope this blog has helped give you some good, simple ideas about how to attract a variety of wildlife to your garden. At Greenhouse Sensation, we provide a wide range of garden wildlife products - from bird houses to feeders for bees to accessories to care for hedgehogs. If you need any products to help you create a wildlife-rich garden, or just want some advice about what’s best for your gardening needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.