07 May Four tips to make your garden more wildlife friendly
Are you keen to encourage more nature into your garden or outdoor space? These outside spots can be a haven for wildlife – and you can make a difference in whatever patch you have available. (A plant pot on your driveway, balcony or windowsill would work!)
Here’s four tips to get you started.
Plant bee and butterfly friendly plants
Colourful and nectar–rich plants will attract a host of pollinating insects to your garden and, with many different plants to choose from, there is something for all sizes and types.
One of the most well-known plants for butterflies is buddleia, also called the butterfly bush. Alongside sedums (which have nectar-rich flowerheads), these butterfly magnets will quickly attract many species and other insects when planted in a sunny spot.
Siberian chives and geraniums have beautiful flowers and are easy to care for and will attract lots of bees and butterflies. Ideal for small areas or pots, these plants can flourish in any sized space.
Lavender, nepeta and Russian sage are similar-looking plants that will reward you with a cloud of bees over the purple blue flowers and provide an aromatic corner to your garden.
Don’t forget about caterpillars
One of the best things you can do to help butterflies and moths is to make sure their caterpillars have the right plants to feed on. Start by finding out the butterfly and moth species that live in your area and then focus on the plant species they require.
Red admiral, peacock, small tortoiseshell and comma caterpillars all eat nettles so leaving an area of your garden to grow wild will benefit these widespread species.
Lady’s smock and Garlic mustard are little plants that are a favourite of orange-tip and green-veined white caterpillars.
Blackthorn plants have many benefits for wildlife and are the food source for many moth caterpillars such as the mottled pug and little emerald.
The importance of hedges
Hedgerows provide shelter, breeding sites and safe highways for wildlife to travel along. Bats use hedgerows to navigate, hedgehogs use them for cover and insects will feed on the nectar. Birds will also feed on the berries making them highly valuable to wildlife.
Planting a variety of species that flower and fruit at different times gives your hedge year-round value. Native species such as hawthorn, beech, spindle, blackthorn, hazel, holly, field maple and buckthorn are a great place to start when creating your hedge.
You can also grow a range of plants along the bottom of the hedge such as hedge woundwort or dog’s violet.
Hedgerows are sometimes removed by farmers to open space to use larger machinery on their fields. Planting your own hedges can help provide additional animal habitats and helps to prevent soil erosion as well as protecting further crops from the wind.
Grow ‘em high!
If you don’t have space for a hedge, climbing plants can provide many of the benefits in a smaller space. Dense climbing plants such as English ivy provide cover for nesting and roosting birds and offer shelter to hundreds of different insects. Our native ivy is also an excellent source of nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies and the berries are loved by birds and small mammals.
Other great climbing plants to brighten up a plain fence or wall are honeysuckle, clematis, dogrose, firethorn and wisteria. The beautiful scent of honeysuckle on a summer evening attracts wildlife from all around and makes savouring a cold drink in your garden even more enjoyable.
Following these tips will help welcome wildlife all year round. This means we can help increase the population of pollinators who support a healthy ecosystem by cleaning the air and stabilising our soils.
We would love to see how you have made your home wildlife friendly. Do you have any tips that have worked for you? Be sure to share pictures of your new plants and hedges with us on social media. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.