OK, so may you don’t want to redesign your entire garden and just want to have a few manageable changes.
Here are three things you can do to make the garden a better place.
Let it go
Allow corner of your garden to ‘go’. This means selecting corners of your garden which can become places you can left leaf litter pile up, leave your sweepings and compost, let go a little wild. This will encourage insects and earthworms, and in turn this will help birds. If it is possible a nettle patch will also do wonders.
Sadly nettle have a bad rep, but they are a really important plant for butterflies and moths who lay their eggs on them. They are also very good to eat! (But only in spring). And their seeds can be collected and sprinkled on salad for a peppery taste.
Other things you can do – delay time between cuts. Let your lawns grow out a bit. The clover and dairies are very good for bees and other pollinators. And the grass harbours spiders and other insects, which is good for birds.
Finally, let your hedges grow out. You are not allowed to cut your hedges between March and October anyways. I know it doesn’t look great, but I can promise you loads of wildlife are using it.
Feed the birds
OK, so you don’t think having a wild garden is your thing. But you can feed the birds. By the way, all of the above will provide plenty of natural food for birds, but if you want to set up a birdfeeder, do so.
Here are some tips on how to feed birds. Just so you know, birds now have plenty of food in the wild so they won’t come to your feeders as much. They don’t tend to feed their young grain, but eat it for themselves. The young are given insects.
- Get a birdfeeder. A simple one. The one above is a peanut feeder. The birds which will gravitate towards it will be the tits and starlings. If you get a seed feeder you will also get the same, but also the finches. Like chaffinch and greenfinch. It takes about two weeks for a feeder to get established. Once it is, keep topping it up – your birdy friends will rely on it. I tend not to top it up in the summer though. I’d start around mid October when food is scarcer.
- Give them your leavings. Birds are happy with crumbs, literally. If you have crumbs or leftovers, and have a high enough table to leave them on to deter rats and mice, you can leave them there.
Make sure whatever you leave out for them has no salt.
3. Finally you can give them your old fruit. Apples, soft fruit, etc all can be left in a corner of a garden for insects and birds to discover. I just tend to throw mine out towards the back and the blackbirds and other thrushes will find them.
Build a bug hotel
If you leave your garden wild, bug hotels come naturally to it. But you can make ones if you prefer to have a more organised garden.
The principle is simple… bits of wood and straw to enable the bugs to live and feed. This is a great example of a bug hotel and you can build it using leftover scraps. Make sure that the wood you choose is untreated or has been weathered.
So here are three things you can do without having to massively redesign your garden. Tomorrow, we start with looking at things we can do to create a garden for wildlife.