Love your logs and leaves

Guide
A large bug hotel featuring pine cones, holes for solitary bees and logs of various sizes

Want to breathe a bit of life into your outdoor space? One of the simplest things to do is make use of the bits and pieces that we often clear away. Dead leaves, fallen branches, old logs, dry stems – they’re all useful. Gathered together, this mix can create a lovely pile of goodness to help your garden grow and encourage more birds, bees and other wildlife to visit.

A large bug hotel featuring pine cones, holes for solitary bees and logs of various sizes

The glorious circle of life

Plants don't stop being useful once they finish growing. All the goodness that’s stored in those spent leaves, stems and trunks can be returned to the garden where it came from. Keeping hold of your old plants, leaves and wood will help feed wildlife and nourish your soil at the same time.

Help for hedgehogs, birds and more

You might not be a fan of creepy crawlies in your composting materials, but they serve an important function by providing food for larger birds and other wildlife.

Those piles of gently rotting matter also provide a safe and often warm home to all sorts wildlife, too. Piles of leaves are where you will often find hedgehogs hibernating. Frogs and toads may shelter in the moist shade of a log pile. Blackbirds and wrens will nest in large stick piles. You may also see some funghi in your compost in the autumn. Please resist the temptation to eat it!

Help for your flowers and plants too

To make compost, put your leaves and other materials into a bag with holes or make a pile and allow it to rot down to compost. This is perfect for spreading on your soil to give your flowers and plants nutrients to help them grow.

The mention of ‘rot’ may conjure thoughts of smelliness, but decomposing logs, sticks and leaves don’t have much of an aroma at all – just a faint scent of woodlands. If you have a compost heap, as long as you mix green (leafy) material with brown (sticks, twigs, ripped up cardboard), you shouldn’t have a problem either. Though, piles of wet grass clippings with no brown material added are likely to whiff!

A few handy hints

  • Location, location, location – where you put the logs and leaves will affect the wildlife that uses it. Try different spots in your garden, with different sized and shaped piles.
  • A log in a damp corner will be a boom for beetles
  • Solitary bees prefer a sunny spot and will use any suitable sized hole to lay their eggs
  • Size matters – five minutes with a drill will massively expand solitary bee’s range of hole choices
  • Go peat-free – making your own compost is easy especially as it means you’re helping to save valuable natural habitats.
  • Don’t have logs? Ask your local authority, or a local tree surgeon, if they have any spare

It's your time

The nature and climate emergency affects us all. But we have an opportunity to turn things around. Between 31 October and 12 November 2021, world leaders will get together in Glasgow for the 26th UN Climate Change conference, known as COP26.

Together, we can influence leaders at this summit. Find out how taking a #MyClimateAction for nature and the climate, no matter how large or small, can make a difference.

Make change happen