Build a wetland wildlife pond
Make your garden wildlife-friendly by building a pond. Even a small tub will attract frogs, toads, newts, dragonflies and birds. But remember to supervise children at all times around the water.
- Choose a sunny site away from overhanging trees that may drop debris into your pond.
- Draw a plan and mark it out with string. A pond with sloping sides will enable plants to grow, and give animals easy access to the water.
- Before digging, use a plank with a spirit level to ensure water level is equal on all sides.
- Dig the pond to a depth of 40 to 80cm with shelves at different depths to accommodate a range of plants and animals. Gently sloping sides enable creatures to crawl out.
- A flexible liner is most suitable for a wildlife pond. Remove stones from the hole and line with sand to prevent punctures or tearing.
- Cover the liner with 10 - 12cm of soil as a base for your plants to grow in. Once the pond has been filled, trim the liner edges and anchor down with stones or logs.
- Add pond plants to oxygenate the water and prevent algal growth. After a while your pond will begin attracting visitors. You could add some frog spawn, but not goldfish!
Food for Wildlife
Help provide vital food and habitat for a wide range of animals such as goldfinches, mice and butterflies.
- Find a space, however small, suitable for planting on. Most wildflowers like a sunny area away from other plants. They prefer nutrient poor soils, so will grow well where other plants won, without fertilisers.
- Take off a layer of topsoil from your border to remove weeds or their seeds. Lightly sow your wildflower seeds and rake in thoroughly. Wildflower plugs such as cowslip, ox-eye daisy and meadow buttercup can be bought from most garden centres, and will add vibrant colours to your lawn.
- Your wildflowers will flower all summer and in the autumn the seeds will drop to the ground providing next year crop. Once the seeds have fallen, cut and collect the remaining vegetation to prevent enrichment of the soil and stop weeds taking over.
- Put up a bird feeder in December to provide food over the winter.
Homes for Wildlife
Provide a habitat for creatures of the night.
Much of British wildlife is nocturnal. These include moths, hedgehogs, owls, badgers and bats, which can be enticed into your garden by the scents of night-scented flowers or the insects they attract.
- Why not give them a home? Nest boxes are suitable for bats or roosting birds and can be made at Out and About events in February. Cut back shrubs and trees as little as possible. A pile of logs or leaves make the ideal hiding place for hedgehogs in October.
- Find a secluded but accessible spot in your garden. Nocturnal animals are generally shy creatures and will be unlikely to visit if they feel threatened by human presence or activity. You could even create a screen of plants or a small fence behind which you can sit and watch.
- Have as little lighting as possible around your night garden. Most nocturnal animals have ultra-sensitive sight or other senses to help them move around in the dark.
- Plant night-scented flowers, which are pale in colour, making them most attractive to the insects on which night animals feed.
Choose from the list below:
- Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
- Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea)
- Tobacco Plant (Nicotiana spp)
- White Campion (Silene latifolia)
- Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)
- Summer Jasmine (Jasminium officinale)
- Night Scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala).
Add some colour to next July by hanging a butterfly feeder and see how many shades you can spot. Better yet, set aside a corner of your garden to grow the plants they need.
- Plant flowering shrubs such as Buddleia utterfly-bush lavender,and Hebe. Various herbs, such as Mint or Thyme, will attract a wider range of species.
- Butterflies need plenty of sun, so plant your butterfly garden in the sunniest spot available. They also require water and shelter so position them where there is least wind and create a small pool or provide a plate of water to quench their thirst.
- Moths can be as attractive as any butterfly. Plant night-scented flowers like Evening Primrose and Honeysuckle to attract them, and in August set a moth trap.
- To cater for all life-stages, allow nettles and meadow grass to grow for caterpillars to feed on. Grow within a tub to stop spreading. As the caterpillars grow they form a chrysalis from which they will emerge as beautiful butterflies or moths.
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