Gardenroom doorway and herbacous borders, Norfolk

Create nature highways and byways

Activity time:
Less than 2 hours
Difficulty level:
Medium
Suitable for:
Small garden, Large garden, Medium garden
To help:
Hedgehogs, Frogs, toads & newts, Lizards & snakes, Bees, Creepy crawlies, Dragonflies & damselflies, Bats, Butterflies & moths, Small mammals, Fungi, Birds, Pond creatures

Many of our garden creatures need to move about freely between gardens.

Did you know that hedgehogs need to walk a mile or more in a night looking for food and a mate?

Sadly, our gardens are too often little high-sided boxes. You can help by creating safe corridors from your garden to the one next door.

 

This is a great activity to do with your neighbours to connect your gardens.

 

You can create highways and byways whenever you like, but it is usually easiest in winter when there are fewer leaves on the trees and shrubs.

 

Are you doing this activity as part of your personal plan? Either take a look at your progress or create your own easy-to-follow personal plan to help you give nature a home where you live.

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What you will need

  • wire cutters
  • pencil
  • saw or jigsaw
  • drill
  • wood drill bit 
  • spade
  • plants and/or hedges
Daisies

Step-by-step guide

  1. Think like a hedgehog or frog! Go into your garden and put yourself in the shoes (or feet or paws) of different creatures. If you were a hedgehog or a frog, how easy would it be to make your way around the garden and in and out of it? Is the way blocked by fences and walls? Are there big open areas you'd never cross in case something spotted you and ate you? 

  2. Add gaps at the base of your wooden fences. Check with your neighbour that's it's ok to do so, and think about pets – you don’t want them escaping! Also be careful not to create gaps which lead wildlife onto busy roads. Create as many gaps as you want, perhaps one every few metres.

    If you’re cutting a hole in a wooden fence at ground level, draw the shape you want with a pencil. An arch is the easiest shape to cut. Make it no more about 15cm wide x 12cm high for larger creatures like hedgehogs, or as little as 8cm wide x 6 cm high for frogs and toads.

    Drill a hole inside your shape with a wood drill bit (the kind used for making circular holes). Then poke the jigsaw or saw blade through your hole to then cut out the hole to your line. Allow long grasses or other herbaceous plants to grow next to the gap.
  3. Let some of your lawn grow longer. Voles, shrews, frogs, toads, beetles and hedgehogs like to move through long grasses rather than out in the open.

    See Give your mower a rest for steps on how to create a spring or summer meadow with paths for wildlife.  

  4. Add a climbing plant. If you have bare fences or garden walls, adding a climber will act like a ladder for some creatures. 

    See Cloak your walls with climbers to see the best plants for your house wall, garden wall, fence or pergola.

  5. Plant trees and shrubs. Corridors can be high up as well as under things. A line of trees or shrubs can act as stepping stones, and a good mix of both provides cover and allows wildlife to move along the floor. Even better, turn a fence into a hedge. Hedges are the most wildlife-friendly garden boundaries. They are safe corridors, can be full of seeds and berries, and are also used for nesting.  

  6. Now enjoy watching wildlife use their new routes into and out of your garden, and knowing that many more creatures are doing the same at night. 

Creating nature highways and byways

Creatures don’t like open spaces, so creating corridors of long grass or foliage for them to hide in will help them move around more freely. Here’s how to do it.

Create nature highways and byways/Saw/Plant/Welcome

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