Many people think of wildlife as being something that is only found in the countryside, woodlands and other wild areas of the world but even if you live in the busiest cities and towns there is a vast array of wild animals and birds to be found living among us. Some of these such as butterflies, pigeons and snails will be well known to most people and easy to spot but there are many more creatures to look out for, enjoy, interact with and offer help to.
Garden wildlife, such as worms and snails can be many childrenâ€™s first close up experience of animals. These can provide a great learning opportunity, not only about the animals themselves but about animal care, conservation, the environment and kindness and compassion in general. These small creatures can form part of educational projects and interests such as caring for some caterpillars through their metamorphosis and then releasing the butterflies.
Many animals such as bees and butterflies are helpful to gardeners as they help pollinate plants so they can fruit and reproduce. By planting certain plants or creating a wildlife garden you can provide food for insects and in turn these insects form the diet of many other creatures that may visit your garden and other open spaces. For example: planting moth attracting plants can help attract bats into your garden and provide them with a source of food. So by working to attract wildlife into your garden you can help educate children as well as benefit yourself, your garden and the environment in general on a larger scale.
Tips for Attracting Wildlife into Your Garden
1) A pond will help encourage a great variety of wildlife into the garden. Frogs, toads, snails, dragonflies, newts and water spiders are some examples of creatures that maybe found even in city garden ponds.
2) A compost heap can provide shelter and a rich source of food for many animals such as slow worms, beetles, hedgehogs, frogs and toads, earthworms and crickets.
3) Piles of logs and fallen or pruned branches left to rot can provide an idea environment for wildlife such as woodlice, stag beetles, frogs and centipedes.
4) Nectar rich flowers will help to attract butterflies into the garden. Some examples of these are: lavender, buddleia, lilac and rosemary.
5) Bird tables, feeders and boxes are easy and common ways to attract birds. These can be bought or made at home fairly easily.
6) Avoid spraying any pesticides and other harsh gardening chemicals as these can lead to poisoning and death of many species of wildlife.
7) Build a bug hotel, hedgehog house or ladybird house.
8) Create a leaf pile in a shady corner for frogs, toads, centipedes and woodlice.
9) Leave a small hole in fences to allow hedgehogs in and out of the garden.
10) Plant native hedges such as hawthorn, blackthorn and hazel.
11) Piles of rocks and stones make a good habitat and hibernation spot for reptiles and amphibians.
12) Leave some areas undisturbed and wild.
13) Leave some or all fallen fruit on the ground as this not only provides food for wildlife but will rot and enrich the soil for the plants growing in it.
14) A small area of long grass will provide shelter for small mammals such as wood mice and voles.
15) Use a shallow ceramic dish such as a plant pot saucer to make a butterfly feeder. Add brightly coloured petals and weak sugar syrup (9 parts water to 1 part sugar) and place it in a high spot.
16) Hover flies are attracted to pollen and nectar rich flowers and benefit gardeners as their larvae eat a large number of aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
17) Plant flowers such as white clover, honeysuckle, daisies and foxglove to attract bees.
18) Woodlice like damp dark spots such as leaf piles, compost heap and wood piles. Woodlice mainly feed on decaying plant matter and help recycle plant nutrients.
19) Snails are often seen as pests as they eat plants but they also provide a source of food for birds, frogs, toads and hedgehogs in the garden.
20) Centipedes are attracted to stone or leaf piles and logs.
21) Mature trees and hedgerows provide shelter for bats and roosting sites where they can give birth and raise their young safely. Bat boxes can also be used.
22) Different types of nest boxes will attract different types of birds so providing a selection rather than one type will attract more species of birds.
23) Dead and dying trees can still provide a valuable home to wildlife such as some birds and squirrels. Climbing plants could also be grown around it to provide shelter, food and protection as well as being attractive.
24) Create a simple spot for a hedgehog to hibernate by leaning a sheet of wood against a fence or wall and covering it in fallen branches and leaves.