Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats to wildlife, but luckily there is plenty we can do to help. No matter the size of your outdoor space, you can create homes and provide food for nature. And, it doesn’t take much, even small changes make a big difference. Here’s our top 10 ways to make your outdoor space more wildlife-friendly.
Feed birds and provide a nesting box
Adding bird feeders and nest boxes to your garden is a great way to attract birds and support plants and other wildlife, and you’ll make your outdoor space a more enjoyable place to sit. Birds also pollinate flowers and help to control insect populations, which reduces the need for chemical pesticides. In winter provide seeds and in spring, when new parents are looking to feed their young, protein-rich foods such as fat-balls.
Provide a water source
Adding a simple water source such as a washing up bowl sunk into the ground or a hollowed-out tree trunk will allow wildlife to thrive, particularly during hotter weather. Make sure you add in a ramp though, as it will act as an escape route for animals, like hedgehogs, that may end up falling in and unable to find their way out.
Create a space for insects
Insect diversity is important for a healthy outdoor area. If you have even a small space in the corner, pile up rocks, wood, twigs, and leaves and leave it be; It will soon become home to all sorts of creepy crawlies. Hollow tubes of bamboo also make lovely homes for solitary bees and are a great addition to an insect hotel.
Look into what flower species are native to your area and plant them in pots or a flowerbed. They will look and smell wonderful and also provide food for insects. In recent years bees have undergone a huge decline and in 2016 the USA put the seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bee on its endangered species list and then in 2017, the Rusty Patched bumblebee was also added. Click here to see some native North American flowers that will attract bees to your garden.
Grow ivy and other climbers
Ivy is an evergreen, so it provides year-round protection for birds and insects; its flowers and seeds are also excellent protein sources. Other climbers such as figs, clematis and roses are also excellent for wildlife.
Let the grass grow
If possible, don’t mow your lawn in the summer. Longer grass provides an important habitat for butterflies to lay their eggs and allows wildflowers to grow. It will also save you some time and sweat!
Stop worrying about weeds!
Many weeds such as buttercups, daisies, and nettles are actually important food sources for insects such as butterflies and moths. They also flower for a long time and so provide food when other sources are absent. Therefore, they are in fact some of the best plants for pollinators – read our blog about pollinators here.
Reduce pesticide use
Pesticides are chemicals that kill pests such as insects and weeds. However, their use often kills non-target species beneficial for your garden and leaves long-lasting chemicals in the soil. Research alternative methods to control pests in your garden that target the problem species but don’t kill others. While particular insect species may become a problem, weeds are beneficial to wildlife in your outdoor space.
Plant a hedge instead of building a fence
Having a hedge instead of a fence will not only allow animals such as hedgehogs to access your garden but it’s also a fantastic source of food and shelter for birds, insects, and small mammals.
Composting your garden and food waste is a great form of waste management and will provide nutrients to improve your garden’s health. They also provide a habitat for worms, woodlice, frogs, and spiders.
*Page last updated in July 2021.