In some ways March can be
one of the busiest months for wildlife in the garden.
Birds are coming and going, small tortoiseshell and peacock
butterflies join the yellow brimstone out of hibernation, and
queen bumblebees are on the wing. Summer migrants,
especially chiff chaffs and blackcaps, may be arriving to swell
the bird numbers at the end of the month. Some species
could be egg laying, including song thrushes and blackbirds in
hedge bottoms or dense shrubs. Useful nectar
and pollen plants, especially dandelions, are coming into
Tidying up in the borders can be completed now
by cutting down and composting last years dead foliage and
seed heads, but look out for hibernating ladybirds if the
weather is still cold. Lavender and heather can also be
trimmed now that the seeds have gone.
There is plenty you can do to help the birds
this month. Natural food in the countryside could be
completely depleted, so donít let up on feeding. A range of
high energy nuts and seeds, especially peanuts, sunflower
hearts and nyjer seed will help to keep the adult birds
well fed and healthy, enabling them to cope with the demanding
jobs of nest building and feeding young. Make sure peanuts
are inside wire mesh containers just to ensure these are not
given to chicks.
Nesting material may be in short supply, so a
mossy lawn will be a great asset. Long grass with some dead
stems will also provide natural nest material for some
species. Pond edges will provide the mud that song thrushes
need to line their nests. You can also hang out bundles of
special nesting material obtainable from bird food suppliers.
March is the month when
lawn mowing begins in earnest. Think about how often you
need to cut, and also how short. Grass left slightly
longer and cut less frequently will support a wider range of
insects and small plants like daisies and dandelions, the
latter very important for a wide range of wildlife. Leave your grass box off to allow
the cuttings to mulch back into the soil to keep the grass
greener in dry weather. If you do remove cuttings, put
them into the compost heap with a good mixture of more woody
material to make a habitat for grass snakes.
If you grow vegetables you
could be sowing seeds
this month. Try including rows of open flowered annuals
like Californian poppy or
poached egg plant between the vegetables to attract beneficial
insects, especially hoverflies, to vulnerable plants such as broad
beans. Hoverflies around these plants will ensure that any aphids are quickly
eaten. Turning over the soil now will expose plenty of
natural food including wire worms and leather jackets which
birds will eat.
Donít be tempted to use slug pellets around
vulnerable plants, but try a beer trap instead. Sink a small
plastic saucer into the ground with just the edge about half a
centimetre above soil level. Fill this with fresh beer to
attract slugs and snails.