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Quick ways to encourage wildlife into your garden
Summer is officially here! And it’s a muggy start. Now that your plants are going haywire, sprouting left, right, centre, stems up, roots down, leaves all over the shop, you can be sure that the wildlife is well and truly awake too. And, while it’s very understandable to feel the urge to protect your hard-earned produce at all cost from the locals – and I’m not talking about light-fingered allotment neighbours with a hankering for your radishes – it’s important to make room for wildlife in your garden.
We humans have a tendency to trample all over natural habitats, and we need to make a concerted effort to put some love back in. If you have young children, they will be taught at school about ecosystems and preserving the lives of the little critters. They may have even undertaken projects in your garden to do just that. The Montessori Children's Garden at RHS Chelsea was very dedicated to the task, with entire walls given over to the encouragement of creepy crawlies. If the kids are doing it, why shouldn’t the adults too?
Encouraging wildlife into your garden will help ensure a healthy ecosystem that will benefit your plants too. Bringing pollinators in will bear fruit (literally), and the predators that follow will keep numbers of pests and bugs from getting too high. Your garden and the planet will be better for it.
Here are some easy ways to welcome wildlife into your garden:
Leave a gap in your fence – for hungry hedgehogs, fences present a serious problem. The poor little things are often having to travel great distances on little legs for food, and getting from garden to garden becomes an imperative. Leaving an opening in your fence, low to the ground, will really help them get about. They also love a bit of meaty cat or dog food. (Bread and milk are a no-no.)
Sow wild flowers – Wild flowers are great for bees and they're just gorgeous. The more bees you can get into the garden, the better off your crops will be too. Make sure to prepare the area first, by freeing up areas in your lawn, so newcomers can take root happily.
Don’t mow, let it grow – mowing your grass is often damaging to wildlife and while you might wish to maintain a manicured lawn, if you can, try and do your mowing during early spring and winter when the animals aren’t as active and you're less likely to damage their habitats.
Weeds are plants too – So you might as well embrace them. Of course there are some intruders that you need to oust with vigour and immediacy as soon as they are spotted. But in the main, we are liable to destroying plants that are weeds only by name and little more. Many of them are great for wildlife and are even attractive.
Why not cordon off a section of your garden, and allow the grass, the weeds and the flowers to grow unimpeded? Embrace the wild!
- Put up a birdfeeder or birdhouse – Easy enough to find in your local garden centre, or why not make one? We all remember those Blue Peter episodes. "Take a cereal packet and some pipe cleaners, and within minutes you'll have..."
Install a Compost Bin – if you’re in an area that has food waste bins, then you’re already doing half the work, and giving away the goods at the end of it! There are many compost bins on the market, ranging from high-tech to rustic to bog-standard. They’re very easy to install and all you need to do is pop in your food waste - careful of the "do’s" and "don’t’s". You’ll get lovely nutrient rich-compost for free and it will encourage no end of bugs and worms to take up residence.