Set up wildlife in your garden

How to turn your garden into a haven for wildlife

A lot of the common or garden wildlife that we take for granted in the UK is under threat. The biggest thing threatening wildlife is loss of habitat – and, along with it, the food that wild animals eat.

Many species of insects and once common garden birds like sparrows and song thrushes are declining. Small mammals like hedgehogs are under threat.

We’re sure that many of you would like to encourage wildlife into your own gardens. There are plenty of things that you can do in your new garden to encourage birds, small mammals and insects.

You can provide a home for a variety of birds and animals all year around.  Pick from our menu of ideas below and have fun watching what creatures come to your home. You don’t have to do everything.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Create a refuge for declining species like hedgehogs, bats, sparrows and song thrushes. Plant borders with plants rich in berries. They will benefit wildlife and bring rich autumn colour to your garden.
  • Introduce a water feature if you have room. This will encourage newts, frogs, dragonflies and pond skaters. It will also provide water for birds. Plant the edges with marsh marigold and purple loose strife to give colour and nectar for insects.
  • Consider planting a hedge which can provide food and shelter for wildlife. Incorporating flowering ivy to provide food and shelter for over-wintering insects.
  • Create your own compost heap. The decaying vegetable matter will provide a home for a myriad of invertebrates which will in turn encourage hedgehogs, slow worms, toads and centipedes which all feed on them.
  • Make a mammal table. This is just like a bird table but it is for feeding small creatures like mice, voles and shrews. You could also create a mouse house or a hedgehog box. Find out more on how to create your own boxes and tables here.
  • Provide an overwintering shelter for insects and small mammals. The Wildlife Trust has some handy hints on what to do here.
  • Feed the birds. Put out a variety of foods on the ground, in feeders and on bird tables. Avoid rats by removing old and rotting food daily. You can put out cheese, porridge oats, raisins, stale cake, meal worms and sunflower seeds. When choosing a seed mix use one with a variety of seeds including black sunflower seeds. Nuts should be unsalted. Make sure they have the British Trust for Ornithology’s ‘safe’ kite mark. In winter, birds will also benefit from fat balls.
  • Plant insect-friendly flowers and wildflowers to encourage bees, butterflies, moths and other insects into your garden.
  • Hedgehogs and other mammals can range for up two kilometres from their homes. Make holes in the base of fences to create ‘hedgehog highways’ to make travel easy for them.