Have you ever wanted to get even closer to your local wildlife and create a safe haven space for them in your garden?
Creating a wildlife-welcoming garden doesn’t have to mean that you need to let it grow uncontrolled. Gardens that encourage critters can be beautifully ordered too. And every garden has the requirements to give a home to nature, whether that’s an estate, family garden or a smaller garden. It doesn’t matter what space you have; making a wildlife-friendly garden is achievable for anyone.
Here’s just a few ways we help encourage our winged and feathered friends using good design and simple, natural accessories:
Wildflower meadows are a great way to reduce lawned areas and help wildlife to thrive. They work particularly well in more generous landscapes, though they can look a little scrubby in less expansive areas, so instead, we find that creating a series of levels or terraces of beds rather than a huge lawn can provide the height and shelter needed to encourage many creatures. You can still have a lawn, of course, but maybe just limit its size and have something more interesting instead?
Adding terraces to your garden at differing heights will help to create more areas for wildlife to find shelter, encouraging them to feel safer and less exposed. If you’ve ever lived in a new build property for example, you might have noticed a lack of birds visiting. It’s most often due to the lack of trees and larger shrubs in the garden, where garden birds can perch with a little cover. Here, trees can be added and garden areas raised or sunk, which with the addition of a planned planting scheme, will introduce many layers of interest and colour to your garden, as well as creating lots of landing places and stop-off points for the birds.
Arbour rails, planted with climbers, rose arches, and pergolas also provide small garden birds with perching stations, whilst offering human visitors to the garden some beautiful vistas and places to relax.
Flowers are the icing on the cake of a garden design, bringing colour and scent to delight its owner’s senses, but when designing a planting scheme specifically with wildlife in mind, our planting designers select species and varieties to enchant and energise the winged masses too.
Butterflies enjoy nectar-rich flowers in vibrant shades of red, orange, purple, pink and yellow and those with long, tubular blossoms (think of each tiny lavender blossom) that they can delve into with their proboscis or flat, umbellifer-type blooms, like bronze fennel and Verbena bonariensis, because they are so easily accessible, just like little landing pads.
Bees love brightly coloured flowers too, especially those that are full of fragrance with elaborate petals that act as landing signals to guide them in and down to their sweet stash. Digitalis are a favourite as are penstemon, roses (though single-petalled roses are best for ease of access) and thyme.
It’s important to remember that based on the shape of the plant and flowers, they will attract different insects. Honeysuckle has long thin tubes and is very popular with butterflies, whereas foxgloves are ideal for bees.
Adding a pond to your garden gives a boost to wildlife. No matter the size of the pond, you will still attract a good variety of wildlife.
However, if you have the space for a bigger pond you’ll need to make sure that there is a way for the wildlife to get in and out safely. This could be anything from a slight incline on one side of the pond to using stones or branches as a ramp.
Plants such as water wisteria and hornwort will help oxygenate the pond and keep the animals healthy. The wildlife you’ll find in your pond could be common frogs, newts, and common toads.
If you don’t want to add a pond, why not add a bird bath to your garden for them to drink from and wash. This could be something as simple as a sloped dish to allow the birds to enjoy a drink. Pick a gorgeously stylish dish or wide, shallow bowl for an artful addition that’s easy on the eye.
Bird boxes and feeders
We all love looking out of the window and seeing the birds in our garden, so why not give them a place to stay. Putting out bird boxes and feeders allows visiting birds to thrive and maybe even attracts more species of garden birds.
Place bird feeders or boxes up high, just in case they offer cats a tempting catch!
In the spring look to provide your friendly visitors with seeds and for winter provide them with fat balls filled with protein. In winter, natural food such as insects, seeds and berries before more scarce, so birds need more fat and protein to help keep them warm over the colder months.
Bird feeders are a great way of getting your children interested in the garden. Get them making their own fat balls for winter and early spring. They love seeing their feathered friends feasting on their nutritious kitchen creations. Enjoy some light DIY? Put your hand to making a bird feeder with an old reused plastic bottle.
The type of food you fill your feeder with will influence which species of birds visit your garden. For example, goldfinches enjoy seeds, whereas insect-eaters like sparrows enjoy mealworms.
Give nature some personal space
A lot of people will place bird baths or feeders in front of their windows so they are easier to see. However, if you want nature to come into your garden you need to allow them space otherwise you might scare them off too quickly. When you are starting your garden design think about keeping any high-traffic areas like entertaining spaces, terraces, or outdoor kitchens near the house make sense both for humans and for wildlife as they won’t be disturbed by lots of noise.
Whether a simple addition or a grand design with wildlife in mind, you’ll start to welcome more wildlife into your garden, and if you’re anything like us you get the bug for expanding your wildlife-welcoming garden.