More people than ever before are taking an interest in attracting wildlife to their gardens. Having a wildlife-friendly garden means more birdsong, butterflies, and even small mammals. Encouraging wildlife into your garden is fairly simple, providing you know how.
By making some small changes, you can create the perfect habitat in your own backyard for a whole range of wildlife. You won’t have to compromise on the way your garden looks to do this, as there are many small steps you can take to encourage biodiversity.
Let your garden grow wild
One of the easiest steps you can take to encourage wildlife into your garden is by ditching the mower and letting your grass grow wild. Once you do this, you’ll begin to notice wildflowers sprouting up during the summer, which results in new insect species, including bees and butterflies.
If you prefer to keep your garden tame and under control, you could mow the lawn sparingly (roughly once every 4-6 weeks) to give plants such as daisies and clovers a chance to grow.
Feed the birds
This one may seem obvious, but birds will appear wherever there is food. Building your own bird box is a great way to introduce new species of birds into your little ecosystem.
Make sure you place bird boxes high up and in a sheltered area, out of sight of predators. In winter, feed your birds seeds. In the summer, provide protein-rich food such as fat balls. If you position the food near the bird box, this will encourage the birds to stay in your garden permanently.
Make a bug hotel
Bug hotels are structures that provide a safe shelter and habitat for many different kinds of insects and minibeasts. This will allow them a place to lay their eggs and raise their young, as well as seek refuge from predators.
You don’t have to splash out on a fancy bug hotel, you can make your own from old wooden pallets, pinecones, old plant pots, roof tiles, rotting wood, dry leaves, bark, and bamboo canes.
Introduce weeds, hedges and brambles
While many people are put off by the idea of weeds and brambles, they can really help to introduce new species to your garden. Thanks to the shelter they provide, brambles and hedges are perfect.
Additionally, some even feature lateral branches, fruits, and berries. All of which are perfect for encouraging new wildlife.
Include a water feature
If you want to increase the variety of wildlife in your garden, creating a pond or installing a water feature is a great way of doing this. Even very small ponds will attract newts, frogs, and new insects such as dragonflies.
To further enhance your water feature, consider adding some marine plants such as pondweed or waterlilies.
Have a compost heap
Composting is a great way to introduce new species to your garden. This is because small creatures, birds, frogs, hedgehogs, and insects will feed on it and the creatures living amongst it. In addition to these creatures, the warmth that is generated from a compost heap can even attract grass snakes.
Plant some trees
Planting native trees will help to attract birds and encourage them to breed in your garden and make it their permanent habitat. If your space allows it, try to opt for species such as crabapple, conifers, silver birch, yew, alder, elm, beech, or ash.
If you have a lot of outdoor space, consider planting multiple species of trees next to each other. This will create a rich woodland habitat that draws in a wider range of wildlife.
Erect a birdbath
Birdbaths aren’t as common as they used to be, and it’s difficult to see why. Not only do they make for an attractive garden feature, but they also provide a water source for birds to drink and wash. These are less functional in winter and in cooler climates, as they are prone to freezing over.
How do you make a wild garden ecosystem?
To make your garden a haven for all sorts of wildlife, you’ll need to get the balance just right. By creating a food chain, you will have an ecosystem that flourishes with very little maintenance.
You won’t need to make any drastic or permanent changes, but follow our steps above and incorporate as many as you can into your garden in order to get the best results. Try to include a good mix of open space, dense cover, water features, and heights provided by trees, shrubs, a long lawn, hedgerows, and climbing plants.
We also recommend holding back on the insecticides, as a lack of insects will prevent your garden from forming its own food chain, which is essential when trying to create an ecosystem.
Are geraniums good for wildlife?
Yes, geraniums are great for attracting insects such as butterflies and birds such as hummingbirds. They’re also extremely pest resistant, making them perfect for a garden that is packed full of wildlife.
Deer, rabbits, and other fluffy pests won’t go near geraniums as they don’t like how they taste. However, you will need to watch out for slugs. To lessen the number of slugs attacking your geraniums, we recommend keeping them in direct sunlight and keeping them watered regularly.
Is winter jasmine good for wildlife?
Yes. Not only is winter jasmine safe for wildlife, but it can also help to encourage it into your garden. Winter jasmine, and most other jasmine species, are excellent sources of nectar.
This means that this flowering plant will attract an abundance of insects such as bees and butterflies to your garden. It can also help to provide a general shelter for birds and insects and flowers for pollinators.
What flowers attract wildlife?
Evening primrose - A tall-growing plant with pale yellow flowers, highly perfumed at night. Seeds are attractive to birds and flowers and also moths during the nighttime. Evening primrose is also able to grow in most soils.
Foxglove - These are tall spires of purple flowers that bloom during late spring/late summer and are very popular with bees. They’re also suitable for shady areas. These flowers prefer nutrient-rich, moist soils.
Forget-me-not - These have pale blue flowers which are favored by bees. Birds such as the bullfinch enjoy the seeds. These flowers prefer damp soil conditions.
Michaelmas daisy - These have purple to pink flowers that attract butterflies, bees, and hoverflies in the autumn. These are capable of growing in most soils.
Sunflower - These have bright yellow flowers in the summer that attract butterflies and bees. The seeds are also very popular with birds. Large seed heads can be stored for use in winter. However, sunflowers require full direct sunlightht. They’re able to grow in fertile, well draining soil.
Violet - These provide a great food soure for butterflies including the High Brown Fritillary. Violets grow best n woodland semi-shady sites. They’re compatible with moist soil with plenty of organic matter. Neutral to alkaline.
Wallflower - The seeds are popular with birds and the scented flowers provide nectar to many insects in early spring. However, these flowers require full and direct sunlight.
They also prefer well-drained, poor soil, that is neutral to alkaline.
Teasel - These have architectural and spiky seedheads that last throughout the entire winter. They are a great source of food and shelter for a huge array of creatures, including bees, butterflies, and birds. They grow best in clay soil that doesn’t dry out in the summer.
What plants attract animals?
Pyracantha - This is an evergreen shrub that features clusters of white flowers in spring which turn red, yellow or orange berries during fall. It’s a great source of food and shelter for many animals and the nectar attracts bees and butterflies.
Crab Apple Tree - These have both native and exotic varieties that are suitable for all garden types and sizes. It grows fruit in the fall which attracts birds, and its spring blossom is sure to attract plenty of bees.
Berberis - This is a shrub that requires very little maintenance and is suitable for most soil types. However, it is not suitable for dry soils. It provides nectar for moths and butterflies as well as shelter for caterpillars. The thorns of this plant provide shelter and nesting sites.
Euonymus, spindle - This tree is super easy to grow and the leaves are favored by caterpillars. It also attracts predators such as hoverflies and birds. The flowers of this tree provide pollen and nectar for insects. However, the berries are poisonous but often consumed by finches. This plant enjoys sunny to shady areas with well-drained soil.
Are roses good for wildlife?
Yes. Not only do roses attract insects such as bees and butterflies, but rose hips are also a great source of food for birds during the fall. It’s important to remember that roses with single or semi-double flowers (between 5 and 15 petals) tend to produce the most pollen.
Moonlight roses are particularly great for attracting bees. Mermaid roses are great for attracting both bees and hoverflies. However, mermaid roses require plenty of room to grow as its thorns are pretty vicious.
Another rose variety called Eye of the Storm has single flowers that open to reveal their stamens. This attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
Dog rose is another great variety to plant to attract more wildlife into your garden. They are simple and elegant, with only 5 petals. The centre is packed full of pollen and nectar, attracting bees and butterflies.