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Make a home for wildlife
13 October 2007
Image: Bob Glover
A good wildlife garden is more than just a corner of a garden left to go wild. Whether you are creating a new wildlife garden, or have an established one, think of it as a nature reserve and you are the warden.
Soil type, drainage and climatic conditions play a big part in what can grow in your garden. The way it has been managed in the past also influences what lives there. If it has been intensively managed, or has less green space and more concrete, it is likely to support less wildlife.
If you are creating a new garden, look at what grows locally in the wild and in other gardens for ideas. You cannot force plants to grow where they don’t want to, so look to see what flourishes where in your garden. If you find something growing naturally and wish to keep it, leave it where it is instead of trying to move it.
The dilemma of finding what will grow where will largely have been solved if you have an established garden. Major changes are harmful, so work with what you have. If any major pruning or removal is necessary, undertake it over several winters to give wildlife time to adjust.
Provide as many habitats as possible, but avoid cramming too much in and focus on what can be done well in the space you have. A lawn, trees and shrubs, flowers and water are key habitats. Look to create smaller microhabitats within these. Here are a few examples:
Wildlife requires two fundamental things: somewhere safe to breed and shelter and somewhere to forage throughout the year.
Creating a range of habitat niches provides different areas and opportunities for wildlife to feed at different times of year.
Many of our actions have an impact on wildlife beyond our gardens. Consider this when choosing or using your materials when creating your wildlife garden.
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