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Wildlife Gardening

Green backyard wildflower meadow

V. Amaral-Rogers

It’s never been more important to garden with wildlife in mind. Gardens form an important network of varied habitat that is vital for bugs, as a refuge from intensively farmed countryside and flower-free urban landscapes. Here are just a few pointers to get you started in thinking about wildlife when you tend your plot.

Composting

Compost heaps will attract woodlice, millipedes, and slugs – essential for breaking down organic and garden refuse into crumbly wonderful stuff you can put back into the soil to improve and enrich it.

Groundwater preservation

Summer sprinklers are a bad thing. Very bad.

Tap water may come from groundwater, which dries out in summer, causing wet habitats in the countryside to dry out. Or if it’s taken from rivers, upsetting the natural ecology and lowering water levels.

Using less water in summer will help protect habitats. Try harvesting roof rainwater into water butts and use kitchen waste water on plants during water shortages.

Even better, lose some lawn and plant a mini meadow instead -  stripy lawns are so last century.

Slugs

Use of anti-slug pellets and nematode cultures is popular, but mollusc pesticides can be toxic to a wide range of species, and even the nematode cultures may have an impact on species of snail and slug that are causing no harm in the garden. But slugs and snails will act as natural decomposers (eating leaves that are already breaking down) in a well-balanced garden. Removing leaf litter and all the squidgy bits that lie around will leave slugs with nothing to eat but your favourite plants!

No peat please

Support some of Britain’s finest natural habitats by buying peat free compost. Many of Britain’s rarest and spectacular insects depend on peat bogs for their survival.

Ponds

Creating a pond is one of the best things you can do for wildlife. It will attract insects such as dragonflies to breed and many others to its margins. Lots of marginal plants and shady nooks will provide perfect conditions for all manner of bugs.

Stones for the hunters

Laying a number of flat stones around the garden will provide shelter for predators such as centipedes and ground beetles. These may look fearsome, but to you they’re harmless, while they will help you keep the ‘pests’ under control.

Walls for bees

We need bees. They pollinate your flowers and fruit, and a garden isn’t really a garden without them.

They often nest in old walls. Re-pointing or repairs to walls should be done carefully and in moderation, leaving some bee nesting sites. If undertaken in spring, adult bees may be able to start a new nest elsewhere. South facing sunny walls are favoured by many bees.

Try making your own bee hotel for solitary bees

Good Wood 

Dead and rotting wood is important for a number of invertebrates. Making a log pile in a shady spot can attract spectacular beetles if you’re lucky, but the less glamorous characters are important too.

Follow our simple instructions to make a bug hotel for invertebrates, such as beetles to hibernate in over winter.

Wildflower Gardening

Gardens have become important refuges for bumblebees and wild pollinators, and you can encourage them to visit your garden by sowing a mini wildflower meadow

Why not download Buglife's Community Meadows Pack and bring the buzz of pollination back to your local green spaces. 

And finally… love your messy bits. They are habitats too.