Insects play an important role in our ecosystem, most of them have specific roles to play and many of them serve as food for other species. The easiest way to encourage insects is to not be too tidy with your gardening. Leave wild patches if you can as these provide food and shelter for insects. A fallen log, or pile of sticks is an ideal home for stag beetles whose number are in decline. Leaving areas of longer grass is also great for providing safe havens for insects such as grasshoppers.
Provide a Safe Home for Wildlife
It’s such a joy to watch wildlife in the garden and if they can find a safe home, they may well take up residency in your garden. There are lots of wildlife houses for sale depending on who you’re trying to attract, or why not try making your own with offcuts of wood? Whichever you choose, ensure that you place wildlife homes in a sheltered, quiet area of the garden and if you’re putting houses in trees (for bats or birds), make sure that they aren’t south facing so they don’t get too hot during the day.
Shop for wildlife homes here.
Wildflowers have declined dramatically in the British countryside along with the bees and butterflies that relied on them, so bringing them back to your garden is a great idea to attract wildlife back. Planting wildflowers is easy provided you chose an area where the soil is poor; fertiliser and compost will simply encourage vigorous grass and weeds which smother them, so be careful when planting.
Get started with our Mini Meadow Easy Sow Mix.
It’s not just wildflowers which are good pollinators, you can also plant perennials such as buddleja, hollyhocks, cosmos, salvia and scabious. Blue and purple flowers are particularly attractive to bees, but generally speaking, the bigger and brighter the flower, the more attractive they are to wildlife! Don’t forget to plant plants which flower throughout the year as pollination doesn’t just take place in spring and summer.
Climbers are a brilliant garden choice, often hiding fences and adding ornamental interest with flowers and foliage. In addition, climbers can help add to the shelter available for wildlife and can offer pollen and nectar to insects. Some also grow berries to provide food for wildlife! They can provide good shelter for birds, who can use it to nest in. Try ivy, clematis, jasmine and climbing roses and hydrangeas.
Shop for climbers here.
Feed the birds
Attracting birds into the garden is easy and we can do our bit by ensuring that they have enough food, especially over the winter. You can hang a bird feeder or provide a bird table. If you’re feeling creative you can also make your own bird food! Make sure feeders are kept clean and away from any predators and put out the necessary amount of food (too much may attract other animals and too little will leave hungry birds). You could also add a nest box to allow smaller birds to create nests in the garden.
Shop for bird care online here.
Create a Compost Heap
Making a compost heap provides a habitat to lots of minibeasts, who help to decay waste. A large range of materials can be added to your compost include old cut flowers and bedding plants, prunings, dead plants, fruit and vegetable leftovers, grass cuttings, dead leaves, tea bags, eggshells and more! Try to ensure a good mix of items. You could include a piece of corrugated iron and some rubber mat, which will encourage slow worms. These have the extra benefit of being a natural pest control as they will eat slugs. This home-made compost is excellent as a soil improver, helping the structure and health of your soil as well as making plants more resilient.
Make a bee hotel
Bees are key for pollination and perform a vital role in the garden. You can create your own bee hotel to encourage bees to nest. You will need hollow stems with different diameters, providing lots of holes for the bees. Pack these together inside a frame and once complete, place the bee hotel on a sunny wall which is sheltered from rain. If bees lay eggs in the bee hotel, young bees will emerge the following year!
If you’d rather buy a pre-made one, shop for wildlife homes here.