10 Top Tips to make your Garden more Wildlife Friendly

Here are 10 simple things that you can do to make your garden more wildlife-friendly. If you can manage all 10 you will be on the way to a fantastic wildlife garden, but even doing one is worth while!


1. Relax! Take time to look at what is around you and you will find you are less inclined to tidy areas beneath hedges, or worry too much about trimming the lawn every few days. Enjoy your garden!

2. Garden organically. If you avoid the use of pesticides in the garden, you will immediately increase the numbers of insects visiting. This in turn will encourage insect-eating birds including robins, wrens, blue tits and thrushes, mammals such as hedgehogs and shrews, frogs and toads, as well as increase numbers of bees, butterflies and all manner of beneficial insects.

3. Plant some wildflowers. Even a red campion tucked under the hedge, or purple loosestrife in the pond edge will increase the numbers of invertebrates visiting your garden, and all other wildlife associated with these native wildflowers will benefit. Wildflowers are important if you want butterflies, moths and other invertebrates to breed in your garden - not just visit it.

4. Make a nectar border. Choose carefully from a reliable list of good nectar plants using information from a wildlife gardening book (several are recommended on the Links page of this web site) or from the articles on the Topics page. There are masses of non-native nectar and pollen producing garden plants available and the more  you have, the better your garden will be for wildlife.

5. Plant a tree. If you have room for a native tree, such as a silver birch or rowan, so much the better, but if not try something like an ornamental crab apple or non-native rowan. You will be amazed at how birds will come to the garden if there is a tree to provide them with perching and roosting places, shelter, and food in the form of seeds and fruit.

6. Plant a hedge. A native hedge in the garden, composed of a good mixture of berry bearing, spiky shrubs such as hawthorn and blackthorn, together with dogwood, guelder rose, hazel, spindle… the list goes on and on. Add some wild roses and honeysuckle and recreate a country hedge. Again the birds will flock to an area like this, and reward you by nesting there safely amongst all those spiky plants and small mammals will find shelter and food too.

7. Make a meadow. This is the best way to encourage some of our native butterflies into the garden – the ones that don’t often take nectar from Buddleia. Many of our native butterfly species lay their eggs on specific grasses, and having long grass with meadow flowers in the garden is a good way of providing breeding places for meadow browns, gatekeepers, ringlets, speckled woods and the skippers. Other wildlife will also benefit, especially other insects and small mammals.

8. Make a wildlife pond. Any water in the garden is better than none at all. Even an upturned dustbin lid with fresh water will encourage birds to drink and bathe, but a proper wildlife pond with gently sloping edges and wild flowers will be a delight for you and your wildlife visitors. Frogs, toads, newts, mammals, birds, and dragonflies will all benefit.

9. Feed the Birds. Feeding your garden birds all year round is a brilliant way of encouraging more species to your garden and helping them in a wider sense.  You can also put up a nest box, a bat box, solitary bee homes or create a log pile.  Visit JustAddBirds for more information and recommendations.

10. Be tolerant! You may well find that things visit you, or ‘weeds’ arrive and you are not keen on them! But remember that spiders attract wrens, and dandelions provide lovely seeds for goldfinches, bullfinches and greenfinches. Once you welcome all native wildlife into the garden, and a balance is achieved, you will find that you are just as fascinated by the creepy crawlies as the colourful birds and butterflies, and they are all of equal importance in your garden habitat.

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© Text and photographs Jenny Steel 2017