A spotted flycatcher perched on a garden gate

Gardens without boundaries

No matter how big or small your space is, whether it's a blank canvas or well-established, if you’ve got loads of experience or none whatsoever – anyone can do this, and our nature needs you. It’s easy to help the nature on your doorstep.

Linking it all together

We’ve got to number seven in our list of top things to do for wildlife in your outside space, and it is all to do with making connections. Make a few simple changes, and you may enjoy new visitors to your patch such as hedgehogs, frogs and more.

A hedgehog looking at its reflection in the water
Adrian Thomas standing in front of a wall with a climbing plant

Your home is not an island! How to give wildlife the space it needs

Discover how to turn your patch into paradise with wildlife gardening guru, Adrian Thomas. Try these simple tips and you can make your space work for you and give wildlife a boost too. You don’t even need green-fingers to give it a go.

In this feature, Adrian looks at how your outdoor space can be part of big network for nature.

A common frog sitting on wood decking

Space to thrive

The thing is that, even if your outside space is full of wildlife-friendly features, most creatures will also need to make use of the wider area beyond your boundaries. They will need to pop into your neighbours’ gardens, and those beyond that. Only by ranging over this wider area do they have the chance of finding enough food and of encountering a mate.

 

But there is a problem. As wildlife tries to wander from garden to garden, they come up against barriers everywhere – fences and walls. For any creature that can only walk or crawl, it is a total obstacle course. It must be exhausting!

 

So, ensuring that wildlife has safe and easy passage is essential if they are to thrive.

A hedgehog emerging from a gap in a wood fence

Make connections

If you have hedges around your greenspace, you’re onto a winner. They will have all the gaps that wildlife needs as well as being an amazing habitat in their own right.


However, if you have a fence, consider cutting a hedgehog highway – or several! – at ground level. Check with your neighbour first, of course, but then create a series of holes about 13cm wide and high. These gaps can be squares or a circles or arch-shapes, it doesn’t matter.
Ideally, choose locations tucked behind bushes or long grass, as wildlife will prefer if they can slip from garden to garden unseen.


If you have a wall, it can be much more difficult to knock a hole through. Instead, think about growing climbing plants up the wall, which can provide a climbing route for wildlife. It’s not ideal, but it at least offers them a better chance of making it to the other side.

A robin peeking through a garden fence

Natural highways

Think, too, about the routes that wildlife takes across your space. A vast open patio or expanse of decking is exactly the kind of thing that much wildlife will avoid – they will feel too exposed to danger if they go trotting across there.


For example, you could leave a strip of longer grass across your lawn. If you mow crisp edges along it, it can look very attractive and intentional. Or, on a patio, an array of plants in pots can create the missing avenue of cover.


Think, too, about the vertical routes in and out of the garden. Birds do like to start high and work their way down into our gardens, step by step. Without that, it can be quite a scary descent. Well chosen trees and climbers give them the rungs to enter your garden, without which they might not dare visit.

An aerial shot of a residential neighbourhood

The wonderful web of life

So, put yourself in wildlife’s shoes and find ways to create a network of corridors through your garden and into the world beyond. Your reward will be more wild visitors taking full advantage of your natural highways and byways. What you do with your outdoor space can be a huge help to wildlife. But by linking it to your neighbours, it can do a whole lot more.

A few handy hints

  • If you have a fence, consider cutting a hedgehog highway at ground level by creating a series of holes about 13cm wide and high (check with your neighbour first)
  • Grow climbing plants up a wall, which can provide a climbing route for wildlife
  • Leave a strip of longer grass across your lawn to provide cover for wildlife to get across your space safely
A common frog sitting in a lawn amongst daisies
Wellies planted with flowers

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A blurred version Nature on your doorstep garden

33 wildlife garden ideas

Choose the perfect gardening activities for you and your outdoor space.