Up and down the UK, new infrastructure and developments have had an impact on the natural habitats of local wildlife, with many bugs, birds, and mammals pushed out of their permanent homes. But this needn’t be the case! In this article, we’ve explained why it’s important to invite local wildlife to share your garden, what to consider when creating habitats, and how to style a bird feeder or bug hotel.
The importance of having a nature-friendly garden
Incredibly, in the UK, personal gardens cover a larger area than all nature reserves combined – with data showing that 87% of properties having recreational outdoor space. With this in mind, it’s important for us as individuals to help nature and wildlife thrive. And it couldn’t be easier to turn your garden into a utopia of singing songbirds, colourful butterflies, and gorgeous wildflowers.
What to consider when making your garden nature-friendly
Creating a sustainable environment for wildlife starts with your plants. Planting native species that wildlife depend on helps to restore your environment and encourage bugs and birds to settle. And with around 40% of the UK’s one million insect species considered endangered, according to the ARC 2031 study, it’s never been more important to provide a native environment. Adding water sources and nesting boxes also makes it easier for wildlife to prosper and stay safe. Things to consider when making your garden more nature-friendly include:
Long grass is one of the UK’s rarest natural habitats for bugs and wildlife, so even something as simple as leaving a patch of your lawn to grow will accommodate an array of grateful plant and insect species.
Climbing plants (such as ivy) are excellent additions to a nature garden. Not only are the flowers and seeds great sources of pollen, but the towering plants provide year-round cover for insects and birds on the ground. And to keep them upright, all you’ll need is a trellis or wooden stake and a handful of sturdy cable ties.
Planting flowers along your garden border provides a nectar-rich feeding area for bees and butterflies. This also gives your garden great colour, which can help to attract more insects to your flowery haven.
Trees and hedges
Having trees and hedges in your garden gives birds and wildlife a natural nesting site, as well as useful shelter from bad weather and possible predators.
Berry bushes and fruit trees are a great source of seasonal food for bugs and birds, with ivy in particular providing nectar and late-winter fruits.
Pest control chemicals might stop slugs and snails from eating your plants, but pellets can also be picked up by the wildlife you’re trying to accommodate. Instead, consider alternative methods of control, such as putting up small barriers or companion planting (growing dedicated plants to be eaten). Rather than ridding your garden of slugs and snail, this allows hedgehogs and birds to enjoy them as a tasty treat instead.
Not only does compost help to naturally enrich your soil, making it easier to grow plants and flowers, but it also provides a convenient habitat for worms, woodlice, and frogs. To avoid rats, just make sure to not include any cooked food!
Leaving a hole in your fence lets hedgehogs and frogs easily pass through, and helps to create interlinked habitats between gardens.
How to make a bug hotel and bird feeder for your garden
When upgrading your garden, it can be helpful to create purpose-built environments like bug hotels and bird feeders. We’ve offered a little advice into fashioning each.
How to make a bug hotel
A bug hotel is a great way of encouraging insects to live in your garden and thrive in a safe new habitat. All you’ll need is an empty wooden box that you can fill with a variety of different plants.
Specifically, ladybirds are attracted to dry plants and twigs, while bees love hollow stems such as bamboo, especially for hibernating in over winter. Other insects, such as beetles and spiders, are fairly low-maintenance and can thrive in almost any environment.
How to make a bird feeder
It’s super easy to create a bird feeder at home, with the only required materials including a clean plastic bottle, a couple of wooden sticks, and a cable tie First, you’ll need to create a series of holes in your plastic bottle:
• Two at the bottom of your bottle at opposite sides, to slot your first wooden stick through. This creates a perch for your birds.
• Two larger holes above the original two, big enough for birds to pop their heads through. These will be the feeding holes.
• Two holes in the neck of the bottle, where you can poke through a durable cable tie to hang up the feeder. Then, all you’ll need to do is fill up your feeder with food and place it in your garden.
Just make sure to hang it somewhere well-sheltered, so cats can’t get to any hungry birds!
With UK gardens now covering a greater area than all nature reserves combined, it’s important for us Brits to take the initiative and make it easier for flowers, bugs, and birds to thrive. For even more expert guidance around how you can enhance your home with DIY, including clever ways to use cable ties in the home, check out our blog.