When we look at what the world leaders are doing to protect our planet and ecosystems, it becomes obvious that we all need to step up and take responsibility for the environment.
UK wildlife is also under threat, and species such as hedgehogs are in serious decline, along with some of our favourite birds and bees. Consequently, anything we can do to give these creatures the food, water, and shelter required to boost their numbers. Here we explore some of the strategies you can employ to make your garden the sanctuary for wildlife it needs.
One of the easiest ways to support local wildlife is to provide food that will keep them healthy and happy. You need to buy the most appropriate supplies for the animals you wish to attract. If you want to attract bees and butterflies, you need to provide nectar-loving plants such as lavender, honeysuckle, and a meadow of wildflowers. While attracting different bird species is about choosing between seeds, nuts, fat balls and grubs.
Protecting the hedgehog means using dog or cat food and not bread. The general diet of the hedgehog is the grubs and insects, so you need to mimic this as best as possible. It is best to leave small dishes overnight, somewhere private, and if you want to see them, you could always set up a motion sensor camera to catch them as they visit.
Getting appropriate hydration is challenging when using streams and rivers to supplement our water use. Consequently, not only do we need to offer a water source in our gardens but also be mindful of when we turn on the tap. Water our gardens using rainwater, by collecting it in water butts.
As well as preserving the natural water supply, we can offer water for drinking in birdbaths, dishes, and ponds. When introducing a pond into your garden, ensure there’s a shallow end so small amphibians can exit the water easily and small mammals can come to the pond to drink.
One of the most fun ways to encourage wildlife is the creation of shelters. Wildlife needs places to shelter from bad weather and sleep safely away from predators.
The easiest first step for young people is an insect hotel. Building one of these boxes is easy and great fun for kids and can offer a great lesson in the sheer diversity of life out there. If you are not keen to buy a bug hotel or build one, you can always offer insects shelter in a pile of logs.
Another option could be to help our small mammals by offering a leaf pile. You could even cut a hole in the bottom panel of your fence to allow access for a creature such as hedgehogs. You can also build hedgehog houses or source from a local garden centre.
The most obvious way to attract wildlife and create your sanctuary is with a birdhouse or bird table. Offering a safe place to nest, high away from predators, can help the local birdlife flourish.
Keep your garden a little wilder
In our attempts to create the most pristine gardens, we remove those opportunities for wildlife to find sanctuary in our garden. A pristine lawn offers little to local wildlife and reduces the biodiversity of plants in your garden.
Equally, using chemical fertilizers and pesticides can be actively harmful to wildlife. While cutting back on pests might help our plants to stay pristine, we remove a vital food source for some mammals and amphibians. While chemical-based fertilisers can poison local wildlife. Choosing natural materials to help your garden grow is essential to creating your sanctuary.
Finally, leaving one area of your garden free to grow provides the best habitat for local wildlife. While we might not want our whole garden overgrown and free to nature, we can set aside a small chunk of land to be the wild zone. By allowing the different species of plants to grow, you provide the food source that wildlife would have expected to find if we had not been here. You can add beauty to this area by throwing a few wildflower seed bombs and letting nature run its course.
Creating a wildlife sanctuary in your garden is one thing we can do to help our environment. Nature has all the ingredients needed to create balance in our world, and we can help maintain that balance with some simple choices. There is also great joy in having our wild friends visit us and be part of our ecosystem.