There are many reasons to look after our environment, but one of them isn’t for us at all. Ultimately, we’re not the only species out there trying to survive, and yet our actions are often direct implications to others trying to make a home.
In the UK especially, there is so much growth. You can barely drive through one town without a new housing estate popping up. Increasing populations demand development, but how can we ensure that our wildlife doesn’t dwindle in the process?
We’ve been talking this month about functional gardens and how to transform your outdoor space. If there’s one way to help local wildlife, it’s dedicating your outdoor space to them. Here are 8 ways you can help local wildlife with minimal effort.
Help local wildlife by providing a home
Last week we mentioned how you can build an insect hotel by upcycling items typically found in your garden shed or garage. If you missed the video, check it out below!
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However, if the thought of an insect hotel gives you the creepy crawlies, why not provide a rest stop for our flying friends. Bird boxes can be attached to a tree or fence and remain in place for years! In fact, one of the Greenredeem team has a birdbox in their garden that they made as a child and over 30 years later, still sits in the same spot nesting Blue Tits every year!
Of course, you can buy bird boxes, but we much prefer the idea of upcycling a few items instead. Do you have an old walking boot that leaks water? Perfect! If you’re looking for a quirky upcycled bird box idea, check out these showstoppers.
A little dash of water is the perfect addition
Water is the ultimate attraction for wildlife. Not only does it bring a wide variety of animals, but it also provides essential help. Whether it’s a frog, bird, or bee, every animal benefits from water. We recommend the best water attractions are moving water, this way animals spot them from a distance with ease as reflections dance and move with the water.
There are many types of water features you can make yourself. Whether it’s a case of digging out a pond or just adding a flowing water feature. Big or small anything will help local wildlife. However, if you’re doubting for one second that you couldn’t have a water feature in your garden, think again. Check out a previous blog of ours for how you can create a wildlife-friendly water feature in minutes.
Provide the food and watch them flock
If you have kids, you know there is one way to get them to come running home – no matter what age they are. Feed them. The same is for wildlife. Their entire life is based around survival and food is paramount to that. The more food you leave out for wildlife, the faster they come running – although that doesn’t mean cook a roast and leave it outside. That’s one fast way to attract pests and disease!
However, there are suitable ways to feed wildlife. Making a bird feeder is a great start. You can do this by upcycling items around the home and reducing your waste too! Just take a look at these ideas for some inspiration. It’s not just birds that need somewhere to rest their wings and refuel, pollinators do too!
Last week we touched on how vital pollinators are to our food supply chain. It is estimated that they save the UK £1.8 billion by pollinating popular crops we grow and harvest. If you’re not keen on creating an upcycled project for pollinators, you can buy bee and butterfly feeders. Most garden centres supply the food you may need for them also.
Plants that can help local wildlife
Providing food and drink helps wildlife survive, but for pollinators, we know their purpose is just as important. They have an instinctive need to pollinate plants, so one great way to help them is by growing pollen friendly plants in your garden.
Now, this may be a bit difficult if you suffer from hay fever. It’s no fun sneezing all spring! But even the smallest plant can help, so dedicate a small corner of your garden away from any windows so you don’t end up a sniffling wreck. What’s more, they don’t take much effort to grow. You can purchase flower bombs that are designed to attract and help pollinators. Simply pull the pin and throw!
Leave a hedgehog flap in your fence
Have you heard about the hedgehog highway? It’s an incredible idea that removes unnatural boundaries for small animals so that they don’t get caught up in traffic! While so many of us put up fences to keep our privacy, we forget that our little 4-legged friends can’t get in to enjoy the water or food we’ve left out. So, if this sounds like your garden, perhaps it’s time to invest in a hedgehog flap.
Small and discreet these flaps can be made by hand, painted and decorated for fun or you can buy one to install. The recommended size is 13cm by 13cm, making it too small for most pets – just in case you were trying to keep the neighbour’s cat out or your pooch in! Hedgehogs travel a long way at night, up to 3km in some cases, so be sure to make their journey as easy as possible by linking your garden to the highway.
Vermicomposting for worms, woodlouse etc
If you’re looking for a way to help out the little guys, then vermicomposting is a great idea. Much like an insect hotel, a vermicomposting heap can provide a home and shelter for worms but what’s more, you provide the food too.
Composting is a great way to reduce the impact of your food waste. Instead of sending it off in the back of a truck, you pop it in your compost heap and reuse the compost throughout the garden, returning nutrients back to the soil. While the main role of vermicomposting is providing a home and purpose for worms, it can also help local wildlife such as beetles, ants, flies, and centipedes.
Natural pesticides only to protect any plants
If you’re growing your own there is nothing more frustrating than discovering a patch where some wildlife has taken a nibble or two. It’s fair to say that animal deterrents do have a place in protecting our gardens, but we can always choose the friendly option that doesn’t harm wildlife.
Remember that while some natural insecticides can save your garden, others may harm larger mammals wandering through. For example, garlic is great to move along insects but is also poisonous to dogs and cats. While there are plenty of other options, be sure that you choose something safe for all of those who enter your garden regularly.
Use every level of your garden to help local wildlife
If you’re starting from scratch in creating a functional garden that can help local wildlife, an easy way to decide on greenery is by reaching every height. Something tall for the birds to sit and nest in, a mid-level plant for those smaller with wings, and ground level for those who crawl. An easy way to do this is by planting a tree, a shrub/bush and a flowerbed.
The combination of all three will typically provide all the greenery that local wildlife will need to thrive in your garden.
There you have it! 8 ways to protect local wildlife in your garden. Of course, doing all 8 would be an incredible effort, but you only really need to be doing one to make a difference. It’s still early in the year and there is plenty of time to help local wildlife, so what are you waiting for? Pick something and get involved in creating an outside oasis for all! Be sure to send any of your pictures to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.