3 steps to make your garden wildlife-friendly this winter
During the colder months your outdoor space can be a safe haven for birds, insects and hedgehogs. Follow these simple tips to
make your garden wildlife friendly.
FEED THE BIRDS
For hibernating wildlife, food isn't so important once winter has set in but for birds the food you put out can be a lifeline, especially as the season goes on and berries are increasingly in short supply. Try to put food out in the same place every day so the birds get to know where to come.
On sunny days at the end of autumn and beginning of spring you will see bees around, so late and very early-flowering plants are a real help. Ivy is in flower at this time of year and bulbs, which you can plant now, are a good source of food for bees early in the spring – fritillaries, crocus and snowdrops can all be buzzing with bees on a sunny day.
Wildlife homes such as bee houses are widely available to buy, but one of the best ways to offer protection, whether it's for bees or hedgehogs, is to create habitats in the sunniest, most sheltered spot you can find.
- A stack of bricks and pots will provide a home for toads and newts.
- Sticks and logs are great for hedgehogs and insects.
- Bees in particular love old wood with lots of little hidey-holes, left in a sunny place.
- And leaves piled up will be great for hedgehogs, frogs and toads.
DO NOT DISTURB
Whether it's not raking up leaves to make a bonfire, or foregoing cutting down the perennials in December, the best thing you can do for wildlife once the garden is set, is to leave it all undisturbed until well into the spring. It's not just the leaves in the flowerbeds or the old flower stems that will provide food and shelter, even the corners of a shed may have butterflies overwintering, or a sunny wall may be harbouring bees or ladybirds.
There's one exception as we go in to early winter, look out for small, under 650g, hedgehogs, especially if you see them out in the daytime. These are young and will not survive winter without help. If you find one call your local hedgehog rescue for advice.