Nature friendly gardening tips

  • Brighten your garden with flowers that provide pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects all year round. Many garden plants are as good for wildlife as wild flowers, like aubrieta and flowering currant for spring, buddleia, lavender and thyme for summer and sedum, Michaelmas daisy and hebe for autumn.
  • Have a variety of trees, shrubs and climbers, or a mixed hedge, to give food and shelter to wildlife. Good small trees for blossom and berries include rowan, crab apple and hawthorn. Ivy provides shelter for nesting birds, plus autumn flowers for nectar, and winter berries for birds and small mammals. Moths love honeysuckle.
  • Look after mature trees in and around your garden and they’ll look after the wildlife. Mature trees are more important for wildlife than any other single factor – if your garden’s too small for big trees, try to get some planted in the neighbourhood and to protect any that are there already.
  • Provide some water. An upturned bin-lid or a sunken washing bowl can be useful or, better still, dig a pond. Make sure ponds have one sloping side to allow creatures an easy way out, and add lots of plants to establish a good balance.
  • Leave a pile of dead wood in a shady spot. Any wood will do though big logs are best and can make a home for anything from beetles to other useful mini-beasts.
  • Build a compost heap, which will help all your garden plants and wildlife. Compost makes for healthy soil, which is good for everything living in it and growing on it. Compost heaps also shelter many useful creatures, like slug-loving slow worms.
  • Provide food and water for birds all year round. Providing a mix of food including peanuts, seeds, kitchen scraps and fat balls, plus natural food such as berries and seed-heads, will attract a wide range of birds.
  • Relax! Leave some areas undisturbed – especially between March and May. Piles of leaves and twiggy debris in a hedge bottom or out-of-the-way corner will shelter frogs, mice and hedgehogs, and the seeds in dead flower heads can be valuable food.
  • Allow a patch of grass to grow longer. This will encourage wildflowers, provide shelter for small mammals and food for some butterfly caterpillars.
  • Garden sustainably to help protect wildlife and the environment worldwide. Use fewer chemicals and no peat, choose wood from sustainable sources, recycle all you can and save water.
  • Check the origin of any wood you buy for the garden. If you’re not careful, you may be unknowingly contributing to the destruction of tropical rain forests. Wood products (including paper) with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label are from well-managed forests. FSC is an international, non-governmental body. For more information, see their website at www.fsc-uk.info.