Planting for Wildlife

Creating spaces for wildlife is something we should be thinking about all year around, but it comes to the forefront of our minds as the weather starts to improve and we start to spend more time outside in our gardens.

We tend to think about nesting birds at this time of year, as the weather begins to warm up, the birds begin to sing, announcing new territories and everything bursts into flower. It is in early Spring that most birds begin to think about nesting, but we are thinking about it all year around!

If you are lucky enough to own a garden, then there are lots of things you can do to help nesting birds and not all of those are by putting up nest boxes.

Think about planting climbers and allowing ivy to grow up some of your walls. Ivy is fantastic for cover and also as a nectar source in the autumn when it flowers and has berries too. Many of these plants will also look great in your garden too, so definitely no sacrifices to create a garden great for wildlife, that looks great. Other climbers such as Oregon grape provide cover, berries and nectar as well and are a great way to cover an unsightly wall or building.

Feeding the birds is just one thing we can do to support and learn more about the wildlife in our patch and putting up nest boxes for them is another.

It can be quite daunting trying to decide which nest box to choose and then to decide where to put it, especially if you haven’t done it before. This guide concentrates on the species that are most likely to be in UK gardens and will guide you through some of the things to consider. Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but if you spend a little time in the planning stage, you are more likely to be rewarded by a visitor. Nothing quite beats watching birds taking to your nest box and successfully raising a family there!

This time of year is great for planting perennials! These plants are always good value for money and will come up each year, hopefully bigger and better than the previous year! The perennials may die right down in winter, but in the spring you will witness fresh new shoots appear and offering promises to blooms to come!

By planting perennials that are good for insects, you will in turn attract all sorts of other wildlife to your garden. All will provide a great visual display and attract pollinators to your garden.

You may want to consider leaving a section of your garden to allow the nettles to flourish. I left a corner for nettles and, as well as trying to make nettle tea, I was treated to a batch of small tortoiseshell caterpillars. Nettle are the main food source for the Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies, so a great way of helping them along.

You and your wildlife all enjoy plants such as this throughout the growing season, but don’t be too hasty in the Autumn to cut them back. Leave the floors to go to seed. In this way, the birds will have a source of food and. next year, you may have lots of new perennials to grow in your garden!

Here are some extra top tips for your garden:

Look closely at your garden

  • Remove paving slabs where they are unnecessary and replace with wildflowers.
  • Plant hedging instead of using stone or wooden fencing.
  • Create flower beds of insect-friendly, nectar and pollen-rich plants.
  • Fill your border with a mix of ground cover plants, and varying heights of taller varieties.
  • Try and avoid large areas of soil with no vegetation – more plants will encourage insects to move around to find the most suitable and encourage more species to visit.

When your garden is green, less is more

  • If your garden is already very green, then the next step to help your garden wildlife is simple – don’t do too much!
  • If you prune trees or hedges, leave the cuttings in a pile in a corner of your garden to attract a variety of species.
  • Stop mowing the entire lawn. Grasshoppers look for the places where the grass is longer.
  • Do not rake too much and leave corners to grow wild with nettles where Butterflies like to lay their eggs.
  • Use your garden waste bin less, and instead make a compost heap in your garden.