Creating a Wildlife Garden
A wildlife garden is a garden which is alive with movement and colour all year round. Do you remember watching a beetle or ladybird climbing over your hand? Recognise all the native birds which live in your area? When did you last see a hedgehog by the back door or find a slow worm hiding in a shaded spot? Creating a garden for wildlife is giving our children the privilege of experiencing just that.
Encouraging garden wildlife can be as simple as popping a birdfeeder on the tree down the bottom of the garden and leaving a few logs in an odd corner to encourage beetles. Even if we only have a small back yard or a balcony, we can still use these spaces to help support our local fauna ... pop a bird nesting box on the wall, a bird feeder nearby, and plant a host of nectar rich flowers in a pot, and you will have already helped a number of friendly animals and insects, who in turn, will help you by keeping annoying pest at bay.
Activities and project you can do with your child to create a wildlife garden
Make a bird feeder for the native birds which stay around during the winter.
Make ladybirds feel welcomed by providing them with a ladybird house.
Cook up some delicious treats for the bird table.
Make or buy a bird nesting box and hang it on a tree or the back wall to give the birds a safe little house to raise their brood.
Draw a 'bird map' showing which birds visit which parts of your garden and where their territory is.
Pop a little refuge house in a corner of your garden for bees and other beneficial insects which have got lost.
Construct a safe and cosy hideaway for hedgehogs to hibernate in during the winter.
Plant bushes and flowers either in the garden or containers which will provide nectar and berries for garden wildlife.
So which creatures can we expect to find in our wildlife garden and how can we encourage them?
Birds – many native birds are in the decline in the British Isles. We can encourage birds by planting trees and bushes which provide winter food for them and providing bird feeders and nesting boxes. Check out Garden Bird for wild bird food, nesting boxes and loads of other products.
Hedgehogs – these friendly little mammals help keep our gardens free of slugs and snails. We can encourage them by providing someone safe for them to hibernate during the winter.
Beneficial insects – these include bees, bumblebees, lacewings, ladybirds and many kinds of beetles. Providing nectar rich flowers and their preferred habitats is a good way of making our garden a welcoming place for them.
Toads, frogs and slow worms all like damp wet places, preferably a garden pond. This is fine with older children, but not always a good idea for younger kids due to the safety issue. An alternative to a pond would be a marshy spot ... an ‘almost pond’ in a corner of the garden – even though frog spawn is unlikely to be found there, a host of other insects will be.
How about foxes, weasels, stoats, field mice, voles, moles and other creatures of the night? One idea is to install a trip light in the garden, together with a webcam or similar recorder, and see which animals come into our garden at night.
Keep your Wildlife Garden Organic!
We really don’t want to encourage wildlife into our garden only to poison it with loads of chemical poisons, so trying to keep our garden as organic as possible is really necessary if we want to be able to watch all the wildlife. Check out Even Greener for alternative organic gardening products which really work without contaminating our garden further.
What wildlife have you seen in your garden (kids excepted!)? Share with us where you live and which animals visit your garden! Are they welcome or do they destroy your prized flowers and veggies? What do you do to encourage beneficial wildlife?
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