How to attract wildlife into your garden

Attracting wildlife to any garden, even a balcony garden is great for the environment. It’s cheap, easy and everyone can contribute - by Françoise Murat

Attracting wildlife to any garden, even a balcony garden is great for the environment. It’s cheap, easy and everyone can contribute.

Insects, birds and other wildlife are critical in the pollination of fruit and vegetables and it is estimated that one third of our food supply depends on these pollinators. Pesticides, loss of habitat due to development and competition from non-native species have all contributed to the decline of this fragile and essential ecosystem.

*Photograph Nick Parkin of *http://www.pimlico-flats.co.uk/

However you do need to provide a varied plant environment to attract and encourage wildlife to settle there. It’s like setting up a department store – you need all kinds of departments to attract all kinds of people to shop, play and spend!

Diverse range of flora by Françoise Murat

A BRIDGE BETWEEN BUILT-UP AREAS AND OPEN SPACES

Gardens in particular can often provide habitats that are missing from public areas such as ponds, quiet nesting sites, shelter for hibernating mammals and nooks and crannies for good bugs to live in.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?

A simple pile of logs will provide food and shelter for a huge number of insects, small mammals and invertebrates. The best place for this is in a quiet, shady spot so they don’t overheat. Also remember to have some leaf litter next to it or nearby so that hedgehogs and toads can make it their home. If you live in a flat this is probably something best avoided! Try this...

A bird feeder – very, very important during the winter months but please don’t feed the birds during the summer months - foraging is good for them. Hang them high so cats don’t grab the birds.

*Photograph Nick Parkin of *http://www.pimlico-flats.co.uk/

Hedges. Very important! As a general rule don’t cut your hedges in May as many birds are using them either at ground level or higher up to breed. Hold off until after breeding season at the end of June.

Build a pond! Well, if you have been following the blogs here then you will know that we did a two part blog here on designing and building a wildlife pond and in part two here. In my humble opinion a pond is the single most important thing you can do to attract a huge variety of wildlife. From dragonflies to frogs, birds and newts, they all love drinking, living and swimming in them.

*Photograph from Carla Boulton at *http://carlaboulton.posterous.com/

Don’t mow the lawn. Yes, I know. Heresy in British people’s hearts. But....if you seed some wildflowers and leave it to itself, this patch will attract butterflies like bees to honey. Talking of bees, they will love the pollen and many invertebrates and small mammals will appreciate the longer grass where they can hide from predators. Leave a few nettles too – butterflies adore them.

*Photograph from Adrian Rayfield at *http://www.propertydecorating.co.uk/

Insect boxes - fabulous, simple to make and a great project for bored children. Cut up bamboo canes, tie them together and hang them under the trees and around the garden.

Layered bug hotel Françoise Murat

Or try a bug hotel – a bit more sophisticated and you do need a bit more space. See the picture here. It’s like a cake, layers of wood, bamboos, bricks, logs, newspapers, drilled logs, etc. Each layer will attract different insects. A hive of bug life!

Bug hotel Françoise Murat

For more information on how to increase wildlife in your garden or on your balcony!

Visit http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/, they have regional centres all over the UK.

Top image: Azure Damselfly by Brian Shorter, the Hampshire Wildlife Trust

 

Françoise Murat & Associates specialise in interior, garden & landscape design.

For more garden and interior design information visit us at www.francoisemurat.com.