Attracting wildlife to your garden is not only easy, but lots of fun once you find a regular rhythm and you start to see results. It can take a few weeks to attract certain kinds of wildlife, but once they are happily moved in they will be easy to keep happy. What’s more, if you have young children, encouraging wildlife into your garden can be a great, interactive learning experience for them too. The following seven ideas are some of the easiest to implement and most effective for instant wildlife magic in your backyard.
To encourage biodiversity, build a log pile. It is a most attractive home for small mammals, amphibians and a wide range of insects. If you want to get really creative and make a tepee-shaped logpile, you will have more of a chance of attracting hedgehogs, as well as creating an rustic-looking sculpture outdoors. One very important note about hedgehogs is that they really thrive on cat and dog food, dried fruit and cooked vegetables. However, milk and bread can make them very ill, so cultivate your garden and attract local wildlife responsibly.
A pile of damp leaves, left to accumulate in a shady corner of your garden is the perfect kind of breeding ground for frogs, toads, newts and slug-eating centipedes. These guys absolutely thrive on decay, so avoid maintaining the area in any way. Leave it to rot and wait for the wildlife to arrive.
Ponds are probably the most essential element for attracting wildlife to any garden. However, unless your pond has shallow edges, frogs and newts won’t be able to access it. They also need places to hide and shelter, which is why plant-life in your pond is important, but algae which grows when a pond is not kept clean is not a positive sign. Barley straw is a very effective, organic way of keeping your pond clean all year round.
Different plants attract different kinds of wildlife, so it pays to do a little research if you really want to cultivate the kind of small creatures that eventually make their home in your backyard. For example, native hedgerows of hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple or hazel are great alternatives to wooden fences and they provide nesting sites and berries that provide invaluable winter food for hungry wildlife.
In the same way, different kinds of trees will attract different kinds of species. In a small garden, it is a really good idea to plant a Malus "Red Jade" of about 2m (6½ft) in height and width. The crab apple fruit that it bears will send a wide variety of birds crazy for the taste. If you are lucky enough to have a larger garden, it might be possible to accommodate an oak tree. Not only do oak trees look incredibly handsome, but they also provide lots of protection and shelter for all kinds of small animals. This is why they are good at attracting wildlife within a short space of time.
Putting up a bird feeder is one of the easiest things to do to attract.... birds! What’s more, you can make sure that during the hard winter months, the birds have enough to eat to keep them warm and happy until the cold and the snow passes.
A common mistake that many people make when trying to attract wildlife to their gardens is that they “garden” a little too much. If you cut down on digging, the worms, bugs and beetles will keep the soil healthy. If you put off cutting back autumn perennials until the early spring, wildlife will feed on the seedheads you leave, it will have lots of hiding places to have fun in and the outdoor area itself will actually become more naturally beautiful over time. The most important lesson to learn when trying to attract wildlife to your garden is to stop aiming for perfection. The most beautiful gardens - those booming with wildlife - are not sterile areas that have been really cared for or overly manicured. Wildlife will come to your garden when you weave it to be are dynamic and spontaneous, just like a natural landscape in the wild should be.