Photo courtesy of a.drombrowski
Now that spring is arriving, it is a perfect time to create a beautiful wildlife garden. Many creatures will emerge from hibernation, flowers will begin to flourish and birds will begin nesting; therefore, I am going to inform you of several easy ways to transform your garden into a wildlife haven.
Keeping your bird feeders clean and full will help attract birds in your garden; however, to encourage a variety of birds try using a variety of different seeds and vary the heights of your feeders around the garden; some birds even prefer seed on bird tables or on the ground. When birds visit your garden also make sure they have a clean bird bath with fresh water in for them to drink and have a wash from. Another way to attract birds is to put up a bird box. Different species require different heights and point facing directions when it comes to a home so be sure to research what you favorite bird requires.
Attracting a variety of insects into your garden will help entice a variety of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. Some insects will also pollinate your flowers resulting in an even spectacular bloom the following year. Pollinators are important in all gardens. Hoverflies are great pollinators and adore daises and marigolds. Bees are also great pollinators and prefer flowers with open heads as they allow easy access to the nectar. Some plants the bees love include: clover, buddleia, lavender and thistles.
When planting flowers for your wildlife garden be sure to plant a variety to please all. Flowers that can be planted in the spring to attract butterflies include: bluebells, dandelion, cuckooflower, pansy, sweet rocket and violas. These flowers will provide nectar for butterflies to feed but if you wish to encourage breeding in your garden then planting holly, ivy, common birds foot trefoil, nettles, honesty, sweet rocket and thistles will provide food for caterpillars. Remember not to use insecticides and pesticides in your garden as these will kill butterflies and many other insect visitors. When thinking about butterflies it’s often forgotten that moths can be just as colorful and have benefits for the garden too. Moths enjoy night-scented flowers like evening Primrose, jasmine and honeysuckle.
Making a log pile will tempt other insects like centipedes into your garden that mammals like hedgehogs love. Building a log pile will also encourage a magnificent array of fungi.
It’s always best to allow mammals to fend for themselves in spring as there is plenty of food available for them; however you can help them in a different ways. You could build homes for them and there are several easy methods of building both hedgehog and bat boxes online. Also, a compost heap can provide suitable homes for hedgehogs, mice and rats.
Amphibians and reptiles
Attracting amphibians and reptiles into your garden has a great benefit; they are a natural pest control as they keep numbers of plant eating creatures like slugs and snails down. A key way to bring reptiles into your wildlife garden is by building a compost heap as they are ideal for reptiles to lay their eggs in (particularly grass snakes) as they provide brilliant incubation.
Building a pond is a brilliant way of attracting a variety of wildlife including birds and amphibians. Firstly your pond should have a border rich in unmown lawn, rocks and pebbles logs and even empty flowerpots lying on their sides; these will all provide suitable shelter and homes for a variety of wildlife including froglets and newts.
Floating leaved plants such as lilies and tall plants will hollow leaves for dragonflies and damselflies to lay their eggs on. The plant, water starwort, is particularly favoured by newts for laying their eggs on.
When building a pond try to have a variety of depths. Shallow areas are always good for garden birds to drink from and bath. Deeper areas provide areas for frogs, frogspawn and newt. A chicken wired hedgehog ramp is good to enable hedgehogs to drink from your pond or even have a swim without getting trapped. If you are building a pond for wildlife then it is important that you do not buy fish or pumps as fish will eat other wildlife and pumps can suck up some smaller creatures.
Things to look out for in your garden in March
Hedgehog, song thrush, common newt, marmalade fly.
By Laura Ireson