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Gardening for Wildlife

Wildlife Friendly Gardening

wildlife friendly garden doesn’t have to look untidy or wild but making a few changes can dramatically improve your garden’s value for wildlife. Here are some of our top tips:

1) Plant with pollinators in mind. There is a worrying decline in many species of pollinators such as bees and butterflies.  Simply adding suitable potted plants or adding a small flower bed into a previously empty space can give them a helping hand. Choose flowers and shrubs that are good for pollinators –look for plants that carry the RHS Perfect for Pollinators logo or have a look at our list of recommended species. Avoid double flowering varieties as these contain little pollen or nectar. Aim to plant a mixture of plants so that something is in flower from early spring to late autumn.

2) Add some dead wood. Old logs placed in a shady corner provide a perfect habitat for hibernating frogs, toads and newts. Rotting wood is also extremely important for a range of insects including the UK’s largest beetle, the stag beetle, which is sadly endangered and listed as a priority species in Hertfordshire’s Biodiversity Action Plan. You could also create the ideal dead wood habitat for stag beetles.

3) Plant a hedge along your boundary. Hedges make a fantastic habitat, providing food and shelter for a range of animals. They can also help to reduce traffic noise and planting thorny species such as hawthorn or firethorn along the boundary of your property can help to deter intruders. A hedge made up of mixed species, native to the UK will provide the most benefit to wildlife. Great hedging species include hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, privet and hazel.  Be sure to prune your hedge annually to encourage it to grow dense and bushy; but avoid pruning it during the nesting season (March-September) so that you don’t disturb nesting birds.

4) Make a hole for hedgehogs. Hedgehogs travel about 1 mile on their nightly hunts for food. Sadly they are rapidly in decline and one of the reasons why is because our fences and walls are becoming more and more secure, reducing the amount of land available to them. Removing one brick from the bottom of your wall or making a small hole (13cmx13cm) in your fence will enable hedgehogs to move from one garden to another more easily.  For more information on what you can do to help hedgehogs visit Hedgehog Street. 

5) Put in a pondPonds are one of the best ways to attract wildlife to your garden*. It doesn’t have to be big, even very small ponds will attract some animals. The best ponds have both deep and shallow areas, sloping sides to allow creatures to crawl in and out easily and pond plants to oxygenate the water and provide food and cover for pond creatures. Be aware that fish are top predators that will feed on smaller pond creatures and newt eggs so avoid adding them if you want a pond rich in wildlife.  

*Please be aware that young children must be supervised at all times around ponds

6) Feed the birds. Filling your feeders or bird tables with seed mixtures or live food such as mealworms is a brilliant way to help the birds that visit your garden. Winter feeding benefits birds most but food shortages can occur at any time of the year so it is best to feed birds all year round. Be careful what kind of food you leave out for them in spring and summer as some foods won’t be suitable for young chicks. Find out more information click here If you find squirrels are the only visitor to your feeders, try adding a little spice to the food mixture such as cayenne pepper. This deters the squirrels but doesn’t affect birds.

7) Put up a bird box. They can be a real help to garden birds. Most boxes should be positioned 2-5 metres above the ground, with the opening away from the strongest wind and direct sunlight and tilted downwards slightly against rain. Remember to clean them out annually after any chicks have fledged. If you have time, why not consider building your ownbird box

8) Green your walls. Planting climbers such as honeysuckle, clematis and climbing roses will provide additional cover and food for birds and other wildlife. Green walls also provide buildings with an extra layer of insulation cutting down on energy loss. Did you know that 35% of heat loss in homes is through uninsulated walls? As well as helping to keep heat in during winter, green walls help to keep homes cool in summer. Green surfaces don’t store up the sun’s energy in the daytime and release it at night-time in the same way that brick and concrete walls do.

9) Be species aware. Non- native invasive species are estimated to cost Britain as much as £2 billion every year. Invasive plant species such as Japanese knotweed, floating pennywort and New Zealand pigmyweed can quickly take over an area, preventing other plants from growing. They have little value for our native wildlife and are very difficult to eradicate once they have become established. Gardeners can inadvertently spread these species when clearing out ponds or weeding, etc. For more information on the species to look out for and what to do if you come across them in your garden visit: www.nonnativespecies.org

10) Tell us what you’ve spotted. Species records are extremely important, they help conservationists to understand trends and to realise which species are most in need of help. If you keep an eye on what wildlife visits your garden, pass your sightings on to the Hertfordshire Environmental Records Centre.

30 Plants for Wildlife Friendly Gardens

Climbers

1) Old man’s beard Clematis vitalba

2) Ivy Hedera Helix

3) Honeyscukle Lonicera periclymenum

4) Dog rose Rosa canina  

Flowering Plants  

5) Teasel Dipsacus fullonum*

6) Bugle Ajuga reptans

7) Wood anemone Anemone nemorosa

8) Golden marguerite, ox-eye chamomile Anthemis tinctoria

9) Gold dust Aurinia saxitalis

10) Red valerian Centranthus ruber

11) Wallflower Erysimum cheiri

12) Primrose Primula vulgaris

13) Ice plant Sedum spectabile *

14) Sunflower Helianthus spp  

Shrubs  

15) Lavender Lavandula angustifolia *

16) Rosemary Rosmarinus offcinalis *

17) Box Buxus sempervirens

18) Japonica, Japanese quince Chaenomeles japonica

19) Fuchsia Fuchsia

20) Hebe “Autumn Glory” Hebe *

21) Privet Ligustrum vulgare

22) Blackthorn, sloe Prunus spinosa

23) Firethorn Pyracantha

24) Butterfly bush Buddleia*

25) Snowberry Symphoricarpos albus

26) Wayfaring tree Viburnum lantana  

Trees  

26) Field maple Acer campestre

27) Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna

28) Holly Ilex aquifolium

29) Rowan, mountain ash Sorbus aucuparia

30) Crataegus laevigata

 

*will tolerate dry spells  

For more details on the above species and further suggestions visit: http://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk/index.aspx  

If you’re keen to buy plants that will help pollinators, look for the RHS Plant for Pollinators Logo

How green is your home? Explore our interactive house for money saving tips and suggestions.