Tips on Gardening for Wildlife

Written by Ilke and Courtenay
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This article will give you valuable tips to turn your garden into a paradise for wild plants and animals.

  • Plant indigenous trees, plants, and flowers and find their “wild” versions. Choose a large variety to attract many species. Plant bushes for small birds to hide from predators and preferably bushes with berries. Do not trim the bushes between March and July when birds are breeding;
  • Opt for a green fence: plant bushes rather than a fence around the garden or let ivy grow on the fence or other hedging plants to grow around the fence. It is a sanctuary for birds and butterflies to take cover. Leave an opening at the bottom of the hedge/fence for small animals like hedgehogs to pass through;
  • Leave piles of fallen leaves, stones, branches, trunks of wood as shelters for small animals and insects. Leave the fallen fruit for butterflies and other insects. Do not keep a too tidy garden;
  • Try to reuse all garden “waste” in your own garden (composting, grass mulching, make wood chips for mulching);
  • Leave an area in your garden to grow wild and add wild flowers for insects and birds. Many butterflies need wild host plants (e.g. nettle) to feed their caterpillars and bees love wild flowers. A mixture of wild flowers can even grow on a balcony!
  • Practice eco-gardening: no synthetic pesticides, insecticides, or fertilizers! Find alternatives instead: go for homemade mixtures, eco-friendly products or attract natural “pest controllers” like hedgehogs (slugs) and ladybugs (aphids) to your garden;
  • Make a natural pond or provide clean water or chopped ice in winter time;
  • Collect rainwater and use it to water your garden;
  • Try to avoid motorized tools;
  • Provide shelters and feeders for birds, squirrels, hedgehogs, and even butterflies, solitary bees and ladybugs.
  • Enjoy observing the activity in your garden or balcony!

We invite you to have a look at related articles such as the ones on eco-gardening and biodiversity. A comprehensive list with translations of plant names is available here.

This article was originally published in the November 2011 issue of the Sunbeams newsletter.

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