Seven ways to make your garden a winner for wildlife

7 February 2018

As the days get steadily longer and the weather starts to get warmer, the time has come to start thinking about getting the garden ready for Spring. And there are lots of ways you can turn your back garden into a wildlife haven. Here are seven ways to make your garden a winner for wildlife.

Install bird boxes

Bird nesting boxes are vital for species that are still declining in numbers, like house sparrows and starling, and they're really easy to install in your garden. 

Boxes are reasonably priced to buy, but you can also make your own. If you live in a tall house it’s worth thinking about house martin and swift nest boxes too, and be sure to clean out your old bird boxes to remove parasites.

Prune trees

It’s almost time to prune trees and shrubs that might need it. The ideal time is after the birds have eaten all the fruit, but before they start nesting.

Now's also a good time to plant deciduous trees and shrubs before the leaves all shoot out. Native species are great, especially if you think about providing a range of flowering or fruiting times for wildlife. But non-natives also have a place in the garden for extending the seasons.

Keep feeding the birds

British birds are getting ready to mate and will soon be laying eggs - so your help will be appreciated all through the year. Get a bird feeder for your garden, and fill it with tasty treats like seeds, peanuts, and dried fruits. And be sure to leave out fresh water for garden birds to drink and bathe in.

Start planting

Start thinking about what seeds you might want to sow in time for Spring. Choose organic if possible, and avoid using insecticides or pesticides - this will harm insects and wildlife making its way into your garden. 

You can start growing some plants indoors now, ready for planting out when the frosts have truly passed. Here’s a good list of plants attractive to bees and other pollinators

Keep your garden wild

Resist the urge to tidy your garden, as wildlife doesn’t thrive in really neat gardens: 

  • Wait until new growth is really kicking in before clearing up dead stems.
  • Let a patch of lawn grow wild, to encourage insects and bugs - put up 'Nature lives here' signs to avoid disapproving looks from your neighbours!
  • Avoid using a strimmer, and try out a scythe or sickle instead to avoid injuring hidden wildlife.
  • Turn last year's compost, so it's ready to spread on the garden.

Start prepping solitary bee nesting sites

February is a good time to start getting bee nesting sites ready, as species like Red Mason bees can start nesting by March. Bundles of reeds or raspberry canes and other hollow stems are a good alternative to bamboo, or you could try drilling holes in blocks of wood and hanging them in your garden.

Check out our video on how to make a bee hotel.

Dig a pond

It’s very nearly time for frogs, toads and newts to spawn, and you’ll be amazed by how quickly nature makes a home in even the smallest water hole.

Check out Froglife's guide to creating a wildlife friendly garden pond for more information. 

With all these wonderful tips, you’ll soon create a little piece of paradise for all your local wildlife. Check out the Ecotricity blog for regular tips on how to make space for nature.

Updated: 30 January 2019

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