When designing and improving our gardens, we all want to preserve the environment and . can do this by encouraging a variety of wildlife. An eco-friendly garden will encourage insects, which in turn brings a wonderful selection of birds.
It takes work to create a garden ecosystem and it won’t happen overnight. Here’s a simple guide to encouraging wildlife and providing shelter for bugs and animals in your garden.
Ivy is a common plant in an English garden, often seen as a pain as it climbs trees and walls and tumbles over wood fences. But this common plant can be a great starting point to attract insects. Ivy is easy to grow and can soon provide a green carpet that offers protection to insects which provide plenty of food for the birds.
Make sure you incorporate plants that will fruit early in spring to provide food for garden birds and their young. Most plants that produce edible berries will encourage birds into your garden, but you they don’t have to be boring as you can plant orrnamental specimens such as the purple-berried Callicarpa. An evergreen shrub that will provide plenty of berries for blackbirds and other common varieties is the evergreen Pyracantha. These popular plants are extremely prickly so whilst they’re useful to keep out intruders, beware when you handle them. Pyracanthas bear red, yellow or orange berries, depending on the variety you choose. Why not plant a selection.
Other forms of wildlife can be attracted in different ways. Some shrubs are evergreen and have attractive flowers which release a scent attracting moths. Moths are also an important food source for bats, so you're not just supporting the moth population, but the bats too.
There are also plenty of tactics you can use to attract animals, birds and insects. A bee box is a great start and requires only a pair of two by four planks cut to a rectangular frame and a selection of bamboo canes. Cut the canes into 1cm tubes then cut another plank as the backing to the box and tilt the tray backward to pack the space with the bamboo tubes, discarding any that are malformed. Use timber that hasn’t been treated, since you don’t want to harm the bees, and add a few larger tubes to accentuate the box's aesthetic appeal.
A nesting box for small birds is easy to make and will provide hours of pleasure. You can even mount a small camera inside so you can watch the babies being fed. Your nesting box should be placed in an area out of direct sun so that the chicks don’t overheat. It can be placed on a tree trunk or fence post or attached to a building.
Hedgehogs will be attracted to a log pile. Consider buying earthworms as an addition to your garden. As well as aerating the soil, the worms will multiply and feed the hedgehogs. The hedgehogs also eat garden pests such as slugs and snails,, so encourage them into your garden. However, never feed hedgehogs with bread or milk, they can't digest them and will make them ill. A saucer of dog food is suitable, together with access to water. The presence of hedgehogs is very likely to attract foxes, completing your garden ecosystem - all at the price of a little green work!
If the above tactics are too time-consuming, a simple way to encourage some wildlife into your English garden is to just let a small part of it run free! Allow the grass to grow and a few stinging nettles to appear and you’ll be surprised how many insects and butterflies flock into your garden to set up home.