12 Ways to help wildlife in your garden this Autumn
Our time to sit out and enjoy our gardens maybe coming to an end for this year, but there are lots of things that we can do to make our gardens a valuable space for wildlife over the Autumn and Winter. Most of them are free, and some don’t even require any effort!
So here are 12 ways to help wildlife in your garden this Autumn
- Ponds. – Male frogs often spend the winter in the muddy depths of ponds breathing through their skin! But if the pond freezes over they can get into difficulty when gases formed by decaying plant matter get trapped beneath the ice. If you have a pond in your garden, now is a good time to clear debris and pop a tennis ball or golf ball on the surface to help prevent the ice from sealing the pond.
2 . Twigs – Pile up bundles of sticks and twigs at the back of boarders or in a plant pot on it’s side so that insects and small mammals can shelter.
3. Boarders – Don’t be in too much of a rush to tidy those boarders. The summer plants and dead leaves act as a duvet for small mammals and insects, giving them a lifeline in the colder months.
Hollow plant stems are important too as shelter for insect and seed-heads are an oil rich food for visiting birds.
4. Plant pots – Any plan pots that you are not using can be stacked upside down to offer shelter for Bees and insects needing somewhere cool and dry to wait out the winter. Terracotta pots are best for this as plastic ones are likely to get blown about by the wind.
5. Leaves – rake up leaves from the grass and paths, but leaf-ing a pile in a corner or under hedges provide hedgehogs and other animals an important shelter.
6. Compost– Species from Hedgehogs to Queen bumble Bees find compost heaps a great place to hibernate over winter.
If your compost bin is open then placing a thick piece of carpet over the top can help by keeping the bin dry.
And leaving the bin to do its thing between Autumn and April will ensure everyone gets a good winters sleep.
7. Indoors – Butterflies and ladybirds will often come inside looking for somewhere dry to stay over winter, but the central heating is not their friend. So by gently moving them to a shed or garage where the temperate remains cooler is better for them. Use an empty box like a shoe box to move them if you can, and make sure they are able to get out of the shed or garage come spring.
8. Bird Houses – Birds don’t hibernate but they do like somewhere to shelter at night and on the coldest or wettest of days. So by clearing out nest boxes they can use them as somewhere safe to keep warm.
9. Feed the birds. (tuppence a bag!) Putting out food for the birds really helps them when food is scarce in the winter. Just make sure you are feeding them the RIGHT kind of food, and that bird feeders are cleaned regularly.
(Apologies if you now have that stuck in your head for the rest of the day!)
10. Houses. Just like bird boxes there are other houses you can add to your garden to help wildlife. From hedgehog homes, to bug hotels, and solitary bee houses. They all help critters to survive the cold months.
11. Plan for next spring. – Autumn is a great time to sow wildflower seeds as some need the cold weather to activate them. So picking an area now and sowing some wildflower seeds can ensure you get a much more colourful and beneficial display come spring.
12. Involve your neighbours/ community. – one way to really help the wildlife in your area is to get several people involved. Creating hedgehog highways through fences for example. (www.hedgehogstreet.org).
Everyone having a small patch of ‘wild’ garden or a few pots of wildflowers will have greater impact the more people on a road or in a community are involved. Increasing the biodiversity and wildlife in any area is a win-win situation.