We started this month expecting it to be full of Keep Britain Tidy litter picks but these ground to a halt when lockdown restrictions came into force. The organiser of the Great British Spring Clean even postponed the event until later in the year. But with more time spent at home, we were able to focus our free time on creating more wildlife-friendly gardens as part of our New Year’s Resolution. And this couldn’t have been a more opportune time, as many of us turned to nature for comfort during the coronavirus crisis.
Unfortunately, many of the UK’s common garden visitors (hedgehogs, sparrows, starlings, frogs and insects) are increasingly under threat. To combat this trend, we began turning our gardens into nature reserve networks to encourage wildlife into our outside spaces. Our team added:
Ponds may be the easiest yet most effective wildlife-friendly garden feature. They create a crucial wetland habitat network throughout the UK’s urban environment, not only for fish and amphibians but also for mammals and birds passing by.
Hedgehogs travel about one mile every night through our parks and gardens to find food and a mate. We can make their life a little easier by creating holes in or under our garden fences and walls – 13cm by 13cm is sufficient for any hedgehog to pass through. Learn more about hedgehog highways.
Fallen trees and deadwood provide refuge for beetles and other insects to thrive. Leaving piles of logs to decay over time can simulate this habitat and may eventually also invite hibernating toads, hedgehogs and a wide array of fungi.
Piles of rocks and stones make another great habitat. They provide a dark, damp environment that invites many insects as well as reptiles to visit and stay. Leave your rock pile undisturbed to let weeds grow, creating a “wild” garden feature.
Trees and wildflowers
Planting a range of trees, shrubs and climbers or a mixed hedge is an excellent investment to attract local fauna. They provide food (in the form of flowers, fruits and seeds), cover and nesting sites for garden animals. Choose flowers that can provide pollen and nectar over a long growing season, then sit back and wait for the bees, butterflies and other insects to come. If you wish to have specific species visit your garden, find out what flowers are best to plant for butterflies, bumblebees, moths and bats.
We definitely found that growing things and seeing animals enjoy our gardens was good for our mental health and wellbeing. You don’t need a fancy garden (or even outdoor space) to grow your own. We used what we had on hand – cans, tetra packs, jars, punnets – as makeshift pots to plant seedlings, which all seem to be growing well so far! So go wild and enjoy the fruits of your labour!