Many of us design our gardens for our own pleasure and rightly so, but how often do we stop to think of all the wildlife we share our outside space with, and are we even aware of the many varieties of creatures who live in our garden? Wildlife in a garden can not only be a pleasure to watch, but many species actually provide benefits to our garden we might not be aware of. This article will look at a few of the most beneficial creatures and give you some handy hints on how to attract them to your garden.
Bees, hoverflies and other insects
Bees are among the most beneficial insects for a garden. They pollinate flowers and crops. The best way to attract them to your garden is to provide them with some of their favourite plants such as lavender, foxgloves, rosemary, sunflowers and bluebells. Ladybirds, hoverflies and even wasps will help control garden pests such as aphids and caterpillars. Hoverflies like marigolds and salad crops. Ladybirds hibernate in dry crevices, so make sure you leave some dead perennials until early spring so as not to disturb them.
Frogs and toads
Frogs and toads both eat slugs, snails, insects and worms. So try and avoid using slug pellets to encourage them rather than kill them. If you want to encourage frogs and toads into your garden you will need to provide some kind of pond. It doesn’t have to e a large pond, just somewhere where they can breed and spawn. Frogs may also hibernate in the mud at the bottom of a pond. Frogs and toads also hibernate on land and like to hide during the day, so provide them with piles of stones, broken outdoor planters and rotting logs. It’s also worth remembering that toads often hibernate under the soil, so be careful not to disturb one when you start to dig in early spring.
Hedgehogs are among the most beneficial of creatures to have in your garden as well as being a joy to encounter. They eat loads of pests including slugs, snails, caterpillars, beetles and other insects. Encourage them by providing foraging areas, food, protection and hibernation areas. Leaf litter and log piles make good foraging areas for hedgehogs. You can also feed your resident hedgehog with tinned dog or cat food especially in late summer when they will be building up their fat reserves ready for hibernation. Leave the food in empty outdoor planters so that the hedgehogs can get at it but it is protected from foxes and cats. Remember to protect hedgehogs from bonfires; they will often crawl into a pile of garden debris to sleep, so make sure your heap is hedgehog free before you light your bonfire. Encourage them to hibernate in your garden by leaving piles of leaves in corners or behind sheds for them to use as nests.
The most important factor when encouraging wildlife into your garden is not to use insecticide or slug pellets. If these don’t actually kill wildlife outright, it will reduce the amount to food available to them and so make your garden an unattractive prospect.
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