From feathered friends to creepy crawlies – our gardens, even in the winter, can be an idyllic habitat for many species. Although during the colder months we see fewer animals and insects scurrying and fluttering about – it doesn’t mean that our gardens are empty.
With the UK entering a second lockdown – many of us will spend more time inside and as well as in our gardens. Read on to discover our top 5 tips on how to make your garden into a wildlife haven this winter.
1. Feed the Birds
In the winter, there are fewer insects, so birds will often fly in and out of gardens searching for food. This is where your bird feeders become essential. The RSPB suggests that high-energy food is best for our feathery friends as it helps to maintain their fat reserves. So stock up your feeders with nuts, seeds, suet balls and chopped fruit. You’ll also need to refill your birdbaths – so they have access to a freshwater supply.
For more information on how to care for birds throughout the year, click here.
2. Break the Ice
In the summer water features and ponds can be a hotspot for nature. However, in the winter they can become hazardous to wildlife if left to freeze over. To prevent any accidents, gently break any ice that has formed overnight. Remember, it’s still home to many creatures living within it – so try not to disturb by being too forceful.
3. Provide Shelter
Many animals seek shelter for hibernation in the winter. If you want to create a winter wildlife haven – there’s no better way to entice animals into your garden then by providing shelter and food.
The type of shelter you’ll create will depend on what you’re hoping to attract. If you’re going for low maintenance in the hopes of attracting insects, small mammals and roosting birds, a dead hedge is a perfect option. For information on how to create one click here. If you’re looking for a more permanent feature for your garden, a hedgehog box would be ideal. For information on how to build one, click here.
4. Don’t Get in a Twist
Nets are often placed over ponds, to prevent falling leaves for collecting, and over beds, to prevent insects. However, small animals can often become entangled. So when preparing your garden for the winter, make sure all nets are above ground level. It’s also best practice to check any area covered by netting at least once a day to ensure no animal is caught up in it.
5. Check Check and Check Again
Animals such as hedgehogs and dormice will seek shelter under piles of leaves and within empty flower pots. So, before clearing an area or racking up the leaves, gently check that you’re not going to be disturbing a hibernating creature. If you do have to disturb them – make sure you do so gently. Try to relocate them to another area of your garden where they’ll be safe and sheltered and can resume their hibernation.
Wonderful Winter Plants For Your Winter Wildlife Haven
As the nights get shorter and the temperature drops – colourful summer gardens teaming with flowers and fruit become a distant memory. However, a winter garden doesn’t have to be bland. Plenty of beautiful plants can survive the winter – making your garden not only a haven for wildlife but a special spot for you to also enjoy.
What To Grow:
- Lily of the Valley – When in bloom, these plants look tiny and delicate but don’t be fooled. It’s a tough plant and can thrive with little sun. However, it can be poisonous to some animals – so if you have any pets, do your research before planting them
- Blue Spruce Tree – Its unique needle coating provides this tree with a beautiful blue hue. However, it does prefer full sun so plant it in a spot which isn’t too shady.
- Winterberries – In the winter, many gardens can be left feeling drab – drowning in greens and browns. A burst of colour can be just what you need to give your garden that burst of life. The winterberry is bright red adding that needed splash of colour.
- Daphne – This shrub is evergreen and comes in many varieties. When in bloom its flowers are often shades of pink and red. It’s ideal for most gardens as it can be grown in large pots, mixed beds and window boxes.
- Winter Heather – Popular with bees, the Winter heather is also a great way of adding more colour to your winter garden. They will gradually spread from where you plant them and will flower from February to March.
Here is Where You Buy Winter Plants For Your Winter Wildlife Haven
You can purchase these wonderful options from most gardening centres. However, if you’re struggling to find them – you can purchase them online. Here are a few of our favourite online gardening websites:
Remember if you are going to the shops to click and collect any garden supplies, safety must come first. So, when leaving the house, make sure you take with you the following items:
- A Face covering for when you enter any public spaces. For more information on face masks, click here.
- Antibacterial gel that’s at least 60% alcohol concentration. For further information, click here.