Together, our gardens and outdoor spaces create a vast living landscape. With an estimated 24 million gardens in the UK, you can help make a big difference to the natural world right on your doorstep!
Think of your garden, balcony, patio or windowsill as a potential wildlife sanctuary for a huge variety of birds, bugs and other critters that are just as fascinating and will thrive in your garden or outdoor space with a little help from you!
Here are 10 easy tips to make a wildlife-friendly outdoor space:
- Fill your garden with plants: And then more plants! Trees, bushes, climbers, flowers – the more you can fill your space, the better. Plants offer shelter and food in abundance and are the foundation for every wildlife-friendly garden. For maximum effect, choose those that are known to be winners for wildlife, including a sequence of nectar- and pollen-rich flowers that bloom throughout the year for our pollinators.
- Create a pond: This is the single best way of attracting wildlife. Even a tiny container pond can attract a whole host of wonderful wildlife. Always think safety first and ensure there are shallow margins or ramps to allow wildlife to get in and out. Include some native pondweed, and some bog plants around the edge, and it should soon burst with life.
- Open your garden or balcony as a bird café: Kick off by making your own bird cake or feeders and don’t forget to provide water in a shallow container for drinking and bathing – then sit back and enjoy their antics! Clean your bird feeders regularly to help keep your garden birds safe from disease.
- Cherish your dead matter: A dead wood or stick pile provides a home for about 20% of Britain’s woodland insects and is food for wood-boring insects. Build these piles somewhere damp and dark to attract insects, toads and newts or find a sunny dry spot and solitary bees may take up residence. Even better – have both! Leaf piles and compost heaps also provide valuable cover, and there is a whole host of life that will munch away at it, helping to fuel the garden food chains.
- Open up wildlife highways: Cut out little doorways at the base of fences so that hedgehogs, frogs and toads can get from one garden to the next. A 13cm x 13cm hole is perfect! Make sure to ask your neighbours’ permission and get your whole street involved to create an even better mini highway.
- Don’t hurt the wider world with your gardening: Choose peat-free compost or make your own, limit your carbon footprint and water use, and keep plastic use to a minimum so that your garden benefits the planet as a whole.
- Grow your plants in containers to maximise space: For those with a small outdoor space or no garden at all, growing plants in containers and hanging baskets is a great solution for a balcony, porch or windowsill
- Build a bug hotel: Create a multi-storey wildlife hotel that’s full of all sorts of natural materials, providing safe hidey-holes for creatures galore – anything from toads, to solitary bees to bumblebees, and ladybirds to woodlice
- Join a community group in your area: If you live in an urban area, volunteer in a local community project to improve and enhance wildlife in your public spaces. National Lottery funded projects such as Keeping It Wild run a number of activities across the capital to empower and inspire young people to conserve and enjoy the city’s wild spaces
- Plant a tree: Native trees provide food and shelter for local wildlife and a fantastic habitat to support various species. Birds such as greenfinches will love silver birches and feed on the abundant seeds and insects it hosts, and bees will feast on the nectar and pollen provided by alders. So why not join The Woodland Trust’s Big Climate Fightback and be one of a million people pledging to plant a tree on 30th November 2019.
Find more wildlife gardening tips here.
Co-created by The Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust and RSPB for The National Lottery’s 25th Birthday! #NATIONALLOTTERY25