A garden that attracts birds, bees, butterflies and other creatures is a treasure to have. You can attract animals to your garden by providing shelter, habitat, food and water for wildlife, regardless of how big or small your land is.
Gardeners have a key role in restoring natural habitats for animals that are being impacted by climate change and human activity. It is not difficult to create a wild garden. You can adapt the way you tend to your garden to transform it into a haven for wildlife.
The ideas presented below will guide you on how to design your garden to attract creatures to your backyard.
A successful garden has to provide three key things to the local wildlife:
Provide Shelter and protection
You should ensure your garden has the perfect mixture of evergreen and deciduous plants to ensure it benefits the animals throughout the year. Choose plants that are native to your area as important habitats for wildlife.
Plant birches and shrubs such as holly to provide nesting areas for birds. If you have adequate space incorporate large trees and shrubs to provide perches for many birds. Hazelnut, viburnums, and shrubby oaks are perfect nesting sites for local birds.
Tall plants are important for providing shade during the summer. For bees, you can incorporate a bee house in your garden to give them a place to set their colony as they serve as crucial pollinators in the garden.
Plant Food sources
When choosing flowers, you should view them as a potential food source for certain animals. Plant native varieties that will provide nourishment for insects, birds, bees and other small creatures.
Choose plants that produce berries, as a source of food in the fall or winter. Flowers rich in nectar and pollen are good food sources for hoverflies, moths, butterflies and bees.
However, you may have to deal with squirrels, rabbits or deer in your wild garden. Install additional protective measures such as natural hedges or artificial fences to keep out unwanted wildlife.
Provide Water points
Animals require water to survive and therefore you have to install a clean water source in your garden. You can use a bowl or bird bath to ensure there is adequate water for animals during the dry spells of the year.
A garden pond can attract birds, and during the spring frogs will lay eggs in the water. The pond does not have to be big, but it is important to ensure that it is in a sunny location, away from overhanging branches.
Grow plants around the pond’s perimeter to enhance its value to wildlife. Add plants in the pond to help oxygenate the water to support the aquatic animals.
How to maintain your wildlife garden
Avoid chemical insecticides and pesticides.
Insects are vital to your garden and as such you should not use any chemicals that would cause them any harm. Manage your garden in a manner that encourages wildlife to reestablish the natural balance between pests and predators. The use of insecticides will also affect birds and other animals that rely on insects for food.
You can use companion planting as a natural way to control pests. Companion planting involves growing plants close together, to ensure mutual benefits to each other. For example, you can plant garlic alongside your rose plants to deter aphids.
Additionally, you can apply natural pest control in your garden. Birds and frogs feed on slugs and snails, while ladybirds love to eat aphids.
Some weeds are beneficial in your garden.
There are various weed species that provide an essential source of food for animals and insects. Nettles, for example, are a good food source for caterpillars and some butterfly species.
Identify invasive and aggressive growing weeds and control them by uprooting or applying a mulch cover. Beneficial weeds will attract pollinators to your garden. Dandelions for example are fast growing but they produce vibrant flowers which are valuable to birds and butterflies.
Avoid using chemicals for weed control as they may be detrimental to insects and other animals that frequent your garden.
Delay deheading of certain plants.
Do not be too quick to dehead the plants growing along borders and your garden edging, especially during autumn. Leave the plant heads to provide food for birds and insects during the harsh weather of winter.
Some birds will feed on flower heads and fallen plant stems as they search for insects and seeds. You can prune the plants in the spring, to allow for new blooms to flourish and attract butterflies and bees.
Considerations for your wildlife garden.
Include a range of plants that are beneficial to wildlife across the year. Biodiversity is essential to a healthy wildlife garden. Grow a diverse spread of plants including groundcovers, shrubs, trees and a mixture of annual and perennial flowers considering their value for food and shelter.
A lot of wildlife struggle during tough winter months so it is essential to offer a year-round food source.
Avoid straight edges
You should avoid straight edges in your garden. Irregular edges improve the diversity of your garden by creating a range of temperatures, different patches of sunlight and reduce the effects of wind.
This will allow butterflies and other insects to visit different areas of your garden throughout the day. Ensure your edges are long to create cover for invertebrates.
Make bug hotels
Bug hotels provide a variety of beneficial bugs with a suitable home in your garden. They will help in maintaining the natural biodiversity and eco-balance of your landscape.
Centipedes are the natural predator for mites and baby snails and ladybirds eat aphids. Bug hotels provide good hiding spaces for bugs and they can be built using materials lying around in your garden.
The main idea behind bug hotels is to provide crevices and spaces for creatures such as bees, beetles and spiders, to restore pest control to nature.
Make use of blocks of wood in your land to create bug hotels. Lay the blocks on each other horizontally, in a rectangular wooden frame, between two trees or along a wall, making sure not to leave any spaces. Squeeze them together, so that they stay in place. Put the bug hotel in a sunny place, ideally at waist height and close to bug-friendly plants.
It is important to note that once your wildlife garden is established you have to contend with rabbits, deer, raccoons, and other unwanted wildlife.
Your garden can be very valuable for local wildlife if you create the right conditions for animals to thrive. The garden should provide food, shelter and protection and water for the animals. Birds, insects, and small creatures will frequent your garden at different times of the year, to eat, hide from adverse weather and build their habitats. Transform your small garden to harbor local wildlife and restore the natural ecosystem.