A wildlife garden is a garden or part of one that is designed to attract and sustain a wide range of local wildlife and plants. Making your garden more nature friendly will create a safe space for wildlife such as; insects, frogs, butterflies, bees, birds, hedgehogs and much more. A lot has been said about wildlife conservation and how our modern landscape is becoming less and less hospitable to the animals and insects we rarely see. As our towns and cities expand and our roads widen, our gardens become increasingly important areas for wild animals to use either as a refuge or a thoroughfare.
The good news is that wildlife gardening is the least labour intensive of all the gardenings, it is all about finding that natural balance. The aim should be to attract as many different insects, birds, plants, and wild life as possible. By sowing local native plants and woodland flowers, the wild garden is made to look and smell more familiar to wildlife and will attract a wider range of insects and pollinating bees. Leave small clearings between plants so animals have a path through, usually they like to take the path of least resistance when out and about. A garden pond is an extra option here, it can provide water for animals and attract frogs or can be used to create it's own environmentally friendly water feature.
Wildflowers are those that grow in the wild without having been planted, they were not introduced by people or animals. Rather than having to go out and pick wildflowers for cultivation or propagation, wildflower seeds have become commonly available. These seed packets usually match a winning combination of native plants that are beneficial to insects and wildlife and attract bees and butterflies. Wild flowers aren't just for large sprawling gardens and meadows, they will still offer the same benefits when grown in pots and containers.
Bees and butterflies can be a bright and colourful addition to any wildlife garden but they also help out by pollinating plants. You can increase the presence of both of these by planting bee or butterfly friendly plants like colourful annual flowers that are rich in nectar and pollen in your garden. Butterflies like nectar producing flowers that are located in a sunny area, without constant warmth they can not survive. Nectar is a sweet liquid made by flowers as a kind of thank you to bees and butterflies for their help with pollination.
Bee populations are dropping all over the world, loss of suitable habitat is only one of the causes. Planting single flower top varieties will entice visiting bees as these flowers produce more sweet nectar that is easier for them to get at. Don't forget to add water; both the bee and the butterfly need water to survive too, and are likely to get thirsty after eating all that nectar. Having a little water source close to your plants will encourage them to remain in the area and come back more frequently.
A pond is probably the best feature for attracting animals, birds, and insects to your wild garden. A wild pond or water feature can support a wide range of wildlife by itself and will usually attract insects within hours of being active. It may take some time for your outdoor pond to be noticed and used by wildlife, they may be wary of a new body of water at first but will warm to it eventually.
A sunken pond will work better in a wildlife garden than a raised pond as they are more accessible and typically have varying depths that will suit a wider variety of birds, insects, amphibians, and fish. If you are using a raised pond make sure it either has a sloped side or some way for animals to climb out if they fall in.
Wild life habitats are natural looking safe retreats for wild life in and around the garden. These habitats will protect them from the elements, predators, people, and garden machinery. The entrance to a wild life habitat should be predator proof, this means predators like badgers, dogs and any other animals can't reach the animals inside. Place the habitat next to a wall, fence or ditch so that it is out of strong winds and cover with leaves and short grass. Put 2 handfuls of dry grass and leaves inside for bedding, this will encourage wildlife to nest there. For amphibians the habitat should be placed in a quiet, cool area near a pond or damp section of the garden.
Bat boxes are clever take on the traditional bird nesting box and are suitable for a wide range of bat species. Bats are in dire need of habitats as many of their roosts have been lost over the years. A bat box should have enough space for many bats inside with a narrow entrance slot at the base, which also serves to provide predator protection. Position the boxes approximately 2.5 - 5 metres (depending on whether the bats are low or high flying) up on a wall, fence or mature tree.