Let nature take its course to create a more attractive environment for all things wild. You don’t have to leave your plot to develop into a small jungle – wildlife will thank you for just a small corner, border or planter.
Native wildflowers are ideal as they’re easy to grow and look after, and provide a pretty display too. Plants like forget-me-not, red campion, foxglove and chamomile are a great nectar source for bees and butterflies. By choosing the right species, you can even grow flowers that attract insects as a food source for birds or bats.
Consider growing wild when it comes to your lawn too. An overly-manicured space leaves little room for wildlife, so mow less frequently, or keep a small patch uncut. Avoid chemicals too, as they're a recipe for low biodiversity. This will allow plants like daisies, clover and buttercups to grow. Though some consider them weeds, they offer food, shelter and breeding ground for insects that in turn provide food for birds and small mammals like hedgehogs.
Plant trees and shrubs
Research has shown that gardens are more attractive to wildlife if they have trees. Many British trees are suitable for good-sized gardens. Silver birch, for example, provides food and habitat for more than 300 insect species! Birds eat its seeds and often make homes in its trunk too.
The flowers, fruits and leaves of wild cherry feed a variety of bees, caterpillars, birds and mammals including blackbird, song thrush, mice and badgers.
If you have a smaller space, try dogwood, which feeds insects, mammals and birds. Or dog rose provides nectar for insects and fruit for birds like redwings and waxwings.
Create a ready-made cosy home
If you want to attract a particular species, a ready-made home can look especially appealing to any wildlife passing through.
From bird boxes and bug hotels to frog pots and hedgehog houses, you can choose to buy an animal habitat or have a go at making your own.
Offer a water source
Water is crucial for wildlife. Making some available in your garden could be a lifeline, especially in extreme weather.
If space is tight, just a small dish can supply ample drinking and bathing water for birds and mammals. At the other end of the scale, a full-sized pond will give insects and amphibians a place to live and breed.
Again you can buy ready-made options or have a go at making your own. It can be as simple as sinking an old washing up bowl or plant pot without a hole into the ground and surrounding it with plants and rocks for a more natural look. Whichever you choose,
keep it clean
make sure it’s topped up through wintertime as well as hot summers
create a ramp on at least one side so animals can’t get stuck in the water
place it near trees or plants so wildlife can approach from – and escape to - safe cover.
Serve an extra meal
One of the best ways to persuade a plethora of wildlife to your patch is to give them access to an easy meal.
A simple option is to put out nuts and seeds to attract squirrels and common birds including goldfinch, blue tit, sparrow, blackbird and robin.
If you are lucky enough to have a hedgehogs visiting your garden you could leave out Meat-based cat or dog food, Specially-made hedgehog food or Cat biscuits.
If you have badgers visiting your garden, they can make fascinating guests. Their presence produces a wide and varied response from gardeners; some consider them a nuisance as they may root up flower bulbs, eat fruit and vegetables, and dig up lawns.
But if you enjoy seeing badgers in your garden, there's a range of suitable foods that you can put out.
Since they eat such a wide diversity of foods, they will probably eat most of what you put out for them (or for the birds, or hedgehogs, or the dog), but it's best to stick to foods that most closely match their natural diet.
Fruit - grapes, apples, pears, plums
Raw peanuts or brazil nuts (no salt or chocolate)
Dried dog food (muesli type)
Peanut butter (unsalted, sugar-free)