Making your garden a haven for wildlife
TOP TIPS FOR A WILDLIFE HAVEN
Make a ladybird hotel out of an old tin and pack it with cut straws.
- Invite nocturnal creatures into your garden by making bat boxes.
- Create a beautiful wild flower patch which will also attract butterflies in the summer.
- Leave food out for birds all year round.
Make a ladybird hotel
Ladybirds hibernate in winter, so why not make them somewhere for them to stay? A shelter can be made easily by removing the lid of an old paint or food tin such as a large soup can, and packing it with straws that have been cut to the length of the tin. Then hang it outside in a sunny place, at least a metre from the ground. Be sure not to disturb the tin and look out for the ladybirds when they emerge in April.
As bats are nocturnal, they need somewhere safe to roost in daytime and sadly their natural habitats such as old trees and caves are disappearing. You can help by putting up a bat box, which looks like a bird box, but with a slit underneath instead of a hole at the front. The box needs to be positioned at about 5m high. During dusk, look out for signs of activity including bats leaving the, the sounds of ‘chattering’ or small droppings below. Be patient though, as bats may take a while to find the box. Visit the Bat Conservation Trust website for more information.
Create a butterfly area
Butterflies love warm gardens with lots of wildflowers so why not find a sheltered and sunny place in your garden to create a natural habitat for them? Visit your local garden centre and buy butterfly or wildflower seed mixes which will only cost a couple of pounds. April is a good time to sow the seeds so they’ll flower in time for the summer butterflies. Keep the grass long around the area so that they can feed and breed in it. Bigger plants such as the butterfly bush, also known as Buddleia (Buddleja Davidii), and Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) will also attract them. Butterflies need water too, so fill a shallow dish with sand and keep it moist so that they can drink without drowning.
Make some feathered friends
You can invite lots of feathered friends into your garden by putting out food, ideally in a special feeder, or on a bird table. Different birds like different foods: blue tits are big fans of sunflower seeds and thrushes are partial to apples. Once you’ve put out food, keep doing it as the birds may be flying to your garden especially and it wastes their energy if there’s nothing there to eat. And don’t forget, never put out food out in nylon mesh bags as these can trap birds’ feet. Visit the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) website for more good ideas on feeding birds.
Find out more about how you can encourage wildlife into your garden here.