Planting for Wildlife

Even if you only have a balcony or terrace, a little haven can be created for an animal or bird in search of a home.

You need to adopt a structured approach to creating a suitable habitat. Using a rich selection of flowers, trees and shrubs will allow you provide a wide variety of wildlife with food and home all year round. Choose your plants according to what you want to attract to your garden. Do some research and find out what types of wildlife visit you local area.

Provide a mix of vegetation, light, shade and shelter by using plants of differing properties and growth characteristics.

Native species can be a rich source of food, but don’t limit your garden – use species from different parts of the world. Remember many birds will visit your garden seasonally whilst on a long migration, so a bit of variety won’t do them any harm. Non natives such as cotoneaster or pyracantha are just as attractive to birds as the native hawthorn.

Don’t be overly tidy with your garden, this will discourage visitors. Allow your garden to grow wild to a certain extent, because what may be attractive to humans might not necessarily be attractive to wildlife. Prune with care, and let your flowers die back naturally so wildlife can enjoy the benefits of their seeds. Obviously you don’t want your garden to go to ruin, so a balanced approach is needed.

Any cuttings or fallen leaves can be piled up, creating the perfect home for a small mammal and insects. Ivy can make a great home for small birds and spiders.

Taking a structured and balanced approach to habitat building can be fun, and soon both you and your local wildlife will be reaping the rewards.

If you have any hints or tips, please let us know.