Create Your Own Wildlife Garden
Attracting wildlife into your garden is not only great for you but is also great for your garden's plants, the environment & landscape that you live in. By making your garden more nature friendly, you can help to protect all our native mammals, insects & bird species, some of which are becoming endangered.
You can increase the numbers of bees, hedgehogs, wild birds, butterflies, frogs & insects your garden to add life, sound & increased garden pest control. Whether your garden is large or small, you can create your own wildlife garden and below outlines a number of steps that you can take to achieve it.
Native Irish meadows are alive with activity. You can increase the numbers of hoverflies, bees, butterflies, wasps and a whole host of crawling insects by sowing a patch of wildflowers in your garden. Select a sunny spot at least 5m2 for your wildflowers. Prepare the area by removing the surface vegetation, then light crub up the surface soil. You can sow wildflowers in early Spring or early Autumn. Spring sowing will start flowering about 6 weeks after sowing. Meadows should be cut back once flowers have died off in late Autumn, remove all cuttings & stay on top of weed & grass growth during the Summer months.
Grow a Nectar Patch
Specially aimed at attracting butterflies & bees, you can grow a nectar patch to encourage additional life in your garden. Like a wildflower meadow, a nectar patch needs a sunny spot, but here you can grow any plants that have big showy flowers such as Buddehlia, Echinacea, Foxgloves, Rudbeckia & more.
New regulations continue to roll in to reduce and remove an ever widening range of pesticides & herbicides. These chemicals can harm & kill insects and hence damage the delicate balance of ecosystems. To encourage wildlife into your garden we need to find ways to control weeds & pests without the use of chemicals. There are an endless array of organic methods for pest control from physical barriers such as netting over crops to homemade pest deterrents including garlic sprays. Certainly, we all need to limit our use of chemicals, read labels & use only when necessary and with great care.
Encourage 'Rough' Patches
As gardeners we sometimes like to keep everything neat and tidy but raking up leaves, clearing debris, cutting grass and keeping borders neat all create gardens inhospitable to wildlife. All mammals & insects prefer untidy gardens with patches of long grass, areas of fallen leaves, old rotten tree stumps, patches of weeds such as thistles, nettles, yarrow & other native plants. Ideally every garden should reserve an area at least 5m2 to grow wild. Keep grass growing at various heights, keep weeds & leaves in place and certainly avoid using strimmers & chemicals.
Hedgehog houses, butterfly B&Bs, insect hotels & ladybird lodgings. There is an endless selection of wildlife habitats that you can pick up & add to your wildlife garden. A few bird houses, bird tables & feeders are a simply way to get started.
Build a Pond
Water is another great addition to a wildlife garden and the pond doesn’t need to be too big to attract wildlife. 4m2 would be ideal and approx. 80cm deep at its deepest point. Ensure the banks are both sloping & steep to allow mammals & insects can access & exit the water. On larger ponds you can build an island in the centre.