Many of us feel a deep and abiding love for our local wildlife, clapping our hands in delight at the sight of bushy-tailed fox cubs playing in the grass or smiling at a colourful butterfly perched on a nearby flower.
Sadly, man-made threats such as pesticide use, over-development, and, most significantly, climate change, are all having a severe impact on our animal neighbours. As a result, even some of our most common species are dwindling.
Happily, there are plenty of simple steps people can take to make their gardens more wildlife-friendly and give our fauna a fighting chance. If you would like to give your local wildlife a helping hand, here are some innovative ways to welcome them into your backyard.
Plant Plenty Of Pollinator-Friendly Varieties
It’s no secret that pollinating species such as bees and butterflies are vital for keeping our ecosystems healthy and flourishing – and that includes our own gardens! To provide resident insects with plenty of food, you can plant a bug-friendly banquet of flowering plants and shrubs beloved by pollinators.
Visit your local garden centre and look for plants with a bee sticker on their pots. Alternatively, you can buy plants online from reputable businesses like Plants2Gardens, which can provide helpful tips on which plants will be most pollinator friendly.
Provide Food And Fresh Water For Feathered Visitors
Birdlife is essential for managing and maintaining a healthy ecosystem, and there is nothing like a melodic chorus of birdsong to bookend the day. To encourage feathered friends to frequent your garden, place well-stocked bird feeders around your garden and provide fresh water for them to drink.
If your neighbours have cats, but you are still keen to feed the birds, hang your feeders in the bushes or in a tree to help provide shelter for your feathered friends while they eat.
Dig Your Own Backyard Pond
A pond can quickly become a sanctuary for local wildlife, providing a home for water-dwelling insects and offering a much-needed water source for small animals during a dry spell. If you want to include a water feature in your garden, you can make it as big or as small as you like.
Create a tiny watery haven by burying a bucket in a deep hole, or dig out a larger pond and fill it with water-loving plants and some stones and pieces of wood for insects or small animals that may fall in.
Help To Create A Hedgehog Habitat
Hedgehogs are one of our most charismatic native species, but they are becoming increasingly rare. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to give these quirky little creatures a helping hand, from providing them with food to help them fatten up for hibernation to investing in a hedgehog hotel.
You can even get together with your neighbours and create your own ‘hedgehog highway’ by leaving small gaps in your garden fences for them to pass through as they search for food.
Give Nature A Chance
Last but not least, one of the most effective ways to encourage wildlife to live in your garden is to simply step back and give nature a chance to flourish. Resist the urge to mow your lawn as often, giving pollinator favourites such as clover time and space to grow, and allow shelter-providing climbers like ivy and clematis the opportunity to run wild.
Finally, if you can curb your weeding impulses, native species such as nettles and buttercups are a fantastic food source for wildlife, encouraging butterflies and moths to lend their delicate beauty to your backyard.