Many of us are using the lockdown as an opportunity to get the gardens and allotments in order so here are some suggestions of how you can help our wildlife flourish.
Leave your mower in the shed. Long grass is one of the rarest garden habitats and by letting some or all of your lawn grow you will make space for many plant and insect species, including butterflies and wildflowers.
Mowing the lawn only once every 4 weeks gives ‘short-grass’ plants like daisies and white clover a chance to flower in profusion, boosting nectar production tenfold.
Daisies are a good source of nectar for bees
Birds are an important part your garden's ecosystem, and creating bird boxes and putting out food will help them thrive.
Put your bird box up high in a sheltered area. In spring, provide protein-rich feed, such as fat balls. Seeds are best in the winter.
If there are cats nearby, place your feeder near a dense bush to provide birds with cover.
Ivy is a very useful plant for wildlife. Both the flowers and seeds are good sources of food and pollen. Plus, it provides year round cover for birds and insects.
Clematis and certain varieties of rose are also excellent climbers for wildlife.
Leave piles of rocks, twigs and rotting wood in your garden. These will create shelter for all sorts of important insects, such as beetles and spiders.
A pond is a real boost for wildlife. It doesn’t have to be huge. You can use a buried bucket or trough. If you do want a big pond, make sure there are stones or branches to help wildlife get in and out. Ponds are best filled with unchlorinated rainwater from a water butt. Waterlilies will help prevent it from becoming stagnant. Avoid locating it in full sun or full shade.
A compost heap is a win-win. Making and using your own compost will naturally enrich your soil. It will also provide a habitat for worms, woodlice and many other insects, including frogs and slow worms.
To avoid attracting rats, only add raw, not cooked food.
Don’t lock out hedgehogs and frogs. Make sure your garden fences have some gaps at the bottom as this will allow wildlife to move through from plot-to-plot. It will also help link different habitats together.
Flowers look beautiful and bring colour and scent into your garden. They also provide food for many insects. Grow as many varieties as possible to ensure colour from spring through to autumn.
Go for native species, if possible.
Learn to relax about weeds!
Plants such as nettles, daisies and buttercups are important sources of food for many insects, including butterflies and moths. They flower for a long time, whatever the weather and so provide food when other sources might be absent.