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Wildlife gardening

Gardening for wildlife is one of the most effective ways to enhance our local green spaces and improve biodiversity. If we all take action on our own patch, and inspire our neighbours too, our gardens can link up to form green corridors, connecting our fragmented landscape. There are many actions you can take at home, whether your garden is large or small.

Dig a wildlife pond
Adding a wildlife pond to your garden is one of the best ways you can increase the amount of wildlife you will see in your garden and will attract all sorts of creatures. It’s great fun watching the birds having a bath too! A pond as small as a kitchen sink can greatly benefit our local wildlife. Do be aware of invasive plants and be selective about which species of pond plant you go for as some can become hard work. Some great advice can be found here:
Freshwater Habitats Trust – great website for all things pond creation.
– The Wildlife Trusts (BBOWT) – how to create a mini-pond
– Pond plant suppliers: Puddle Plants, and for a local one you can visit for inspiration and purchase plants: The Water Garden.

Install bird and bat boxes
Putting up bird boxes is a great way to help our garden birds but they do need to be put up in the right place and be of the right design. They can be much cheaper to make and a fun task to do with your children to develop some basic woodwork skills. Some great advice and designs can be found here:
RSPB Build a Nest Box
British Trust for Ornithology – putting up bird nest boxes

Owl boxes
Most gardens are not suitable for owl boxes but if you have a larger garden or live next to woods or farmland it might be worth making contact with the landowner and seeing if they would be interested in having a box up.
Barn Owl Trust advice on Barn Owl and Tawny Owl boxes
Barn Owl Trust web page to report barn owl sightings

Bat Boxes
Have you ever thought about helping bats? You can put up a bat box and plant things that will attract night-time insects for bats to feed on. The Bat Conservation Trust has great advice on bat boxes.

Feed the birds
Feeding the birds is vital, especially during the winter months. There are a variety of feeders and seed mixes out there, with higher fat feeds more suitable for when the weather is colder. You can also help feed the birds by leaving seed heads in your garden. Plants such as teasels can often be seen with flocks of Goldfinch on them, looking for their tiny but nutritious seeds. For more guidance see Take action for birds.

Encourage Bees, Butterflies and other Pollinators
Pollinator species are in trouble and we rely on them for much of our food production, so help them out by planting some pollinator-friendly plants, widely available at garden centres. With the hotter summers we are getting, it is a good idea to make sure you get some ‘drought tolerant’ species, for warmer parts of your garden. For more guidance see Take action for pollinators.
More about pollinator-friendly plants can be found here:
RHS Plants for Pollinators

Build a bug hotel
Why not help attract wildlife into your garden by building a bug hotel. This could be as simple as a pile of log/sticks or creating a ‘bug palace’ out of old pallets, filling the gaps with fir cones, sticks, seed head and old bricks. The different sized holes attract a variety of insects to your garden and provide them with shelter and a place for many of them to hibernate over winter.

Leave long grass and wild patches
Leaving some wild patches in your garden can greatly benefit the local wildlife. In your borders, why not leave some seed heads and dead material, providing food and shelter for many species. Leaving long grass is fantastic too: allowing wildflowers to grow, providing shelter for insects, mammals, amphibians and providing food for many species too. If you have the space then why not create a wildflower meadow.

Useful wildlife gardening links
Wildlife Gardening Forum to sign up for their regular newsletter or attend a conference
BBOWT – how to grow a wild patch.
Berks Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) – actions