How to encourage wildlife in your garden this spring

Environ, Freshford Mill | 17 March 2016 |

Spring is just around the corner, and as we’ll soon be spending more time outdoors, we thought we’d have a look at how to make sure your garden is providing the right environment for wildlife. At Environ’s latest project, Freshford Mill near Bath, Julie and the team are transforming a derelict mill into 21 new homes. Based in a conservation area teeming with wildlife Julie is putting her top tips into practice and is designing the site as a haven for local wildlife:

– Select a wide range of native trees and shrubs, plus a mixture of flowering plants and vegetables to provide food for animals throughout the season. Flowers provide pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects that are essential for fertilisation.

– Create a compost heap to provide shelter for reptiles and hedgehogs. A pile of rotting wood is good for stag and bark beetles and woodlice.

– Encourage birds with fresh water and food. Nuts, sunflower seeds, kitchen scraps fat balls, or pet shop seed mixtures are all good. Just make sure feeding tables are not accessible to cats and squirrels!

– To encourage butterflies, plant groups of the same flowers together so they are easy to find. Leave areas of longer grass, nettles and brambles, which create a supply of food and egg-laying environments, plus shelter for small mammals such as hedgehogs, wood mice, voles and shrews.

– Don’t kill off all the caterpillars and other insects in your garden! Instead install insect “hotels” which offer a variety of environments. They can be built with old wood, loose bark, and hollow stems such as old bamboo canes.

– Don’t light your garden. Lights will deter bats which require dark corridors to navigate at night. If you do, use only LEDs in a warm white or terracotta that shine downwards with a narrow beam and set on a sensor.

– Install a pond with a shallow sloping edge to enable easy access to both water and land for reptiles such as newts. A slightly boggy area around part of the edge of the pond is great for toads and frogs. A pond may also attract waterfowl. Birds such as swallows and house martins will pick off insects from above the water surface and use muddy areas for nest building.