Tips for Building a Picture-Perfect and Wildlife-Friendly Garden
For many of us, the garden is an extension of our home, and it’s a great place to spend a few hours in an environment designed and built with our own capable hands. From sitting in a comfortable spot with a book to tending to flowers or being self-sufficient and growing your own fruit and vegetables, there are a multitude of ways to enjoy our gardens.
Decking out gardens with pretty flowers and decorations helps us enjoy it and feel more positive about unwinding there but one element we can’t just buy is native wildlife. If you would like to encourage more wildlife into your garden to make it truly come alive, then we have some tips to help you create a picture-perfect outdoor environment.
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Wildflowers can make a great addition to an eco-friendly garden because they require minimal maintenance and are loved by insects like bees and butterflies. To ensure wildflowers encourage local wildlife into your garden it’s important to use native plants.
These plants have evolved and developed with native insects, and some species favor the local varieties of flora. It is well documented that the bee population is in decline but by introducing plant life that they are naturally attracted to, you can help entice them into your garden and offer some sweet sanctuary.
Able to grow in less-than-perfect conditions, wildflowers and native plants are also naturally robust against pests and once they are bedded in will not require pesticides to survive. This ensures any bees or insects can enjoy the flowers in your garden safely. Some of the best natural flowers to encourage bees to pollinate include bee balm, black-eyed susan, and wrinkle leaf goldenrod.
Water is essential for practically all life on earth so introducing some to your garden can make the world of difference, especially during hot months. Frogs, newts, and toads love the water and your natural garden will provide them with ample insects to feast upon as they chill and lap up your water.
You may even be fortunate enough to welcome a beautiful array of photo-worthy dragonflies to your garden through your water feature. While wildlife photography requires tons of patience and endurance, a watering hole can provide you with ample opportunities to snap your resident critters as they go about their business.
A wildlife watering hole doesn’t have to be large, and even a simple saucer with water is enough for birds to stop by and take a drink. If you are setting up something more substantial, it is important to ensure it has sloped sides so that any animals that enter can find their way back out safely. Even something like an old sink can be recycled and repurposed as a wildlife water hole rather than finding its way to a landfill site.
If you have a particular type of wildlife you would like to welcome into your garden, it’s important to create an environment where they can thrive. Small mammals like bats, chipmunks, lizards, and birds love to eat insects, so a garden teeming with bugs is a great starting point.
However, to help them stay, a cozy home is a great way to recycle and repurpose materials for the benefit of the local wildlife. Whether you are looking to build a bat box, butterfly house, or rabbit den, reclaimed wood is a great starting point for creating the perfect garden habitat.
In some ways, rabbits and chipmunks are just like us and all they really want is to hunker down somewhere comfortable and enjoy a quiet life. Thankfully, we can help them achieve their dreams with a cozy haven made from untreated timber or crates.
A successful small mammal home should have an entrance tunnel that is narrower than the main living space and to create these two basic shapes tools like a saw, hammer, and drill will be essential. To make the home nice and snug it should be wind and rainproof. Your box should have little to no gaps in it to give your spiky resident as much shelter as possible and to ensure they get enough air we can use a piece of hose.
Cut a hole near the top of the box to slide the hose through, and lay the length of pipe that is outside the rabbit or chipmunk home onto the ground. This allows for air to enter the box but keeps any rainwater out. A garden wildlife home should also have a detachable lid so you can clean it out once a year. Homes for small mammals should be placed in a quiet spot, away from direct sunlight and sheltered from the wind.
In summary, building a small mammal home requires the following:
- Untreated timber or crate
- Saw, hammer, and drill
- Air-hole, hose, and piping
- Detachable lid
- Quiet shady location
The bat population is in decline but we can give them a helping hand by creating a safe hideout in our gardens with a bat box. Ideally placed high up on a tree or the eaves of your home, a bat box is a simple construction made from untreated timber. You will need some timber, basic tools like a hammer, saw, and drill, measuring equipment, and some nails, screws, or adjustable ties to fix your box in place.
When designing your box, ensure there is a small opening for the bats to crawl into at the bottom rather than the top to keep them nice and dry in bad weather. Often, untreated timber can be smooth so make sure to score the surface of your wood at the entrance point and where the bats will hang to ensure they can grip on with their claws.
Foraging is an essential part of many animals’ lives, from finding food in the undergrowth to sourcing building materials for their nests or dens. While we can simply provide food for wildlife, it’s also fun to create a foraging epicenter that can keep animals, birds, and insects in your garden for longer. Planting flowers that blossom and seed at different times of the year can help keep the wildlife population coming to your garden throughout the year.
You may wish to create an unattended section where the grass grows naturally and you can gather fallen leaves and twigs. Overly worked gardens don’t leave much room for wildlife and even letting weeds grow in this area can provide food, shelter, and a safe breeding ground for many garden animals.