How can I help wildlife thrive in my garden over winter?
Robin on feeder
Many of us would like to find ways to support our local wildlife, especially when the weather is cold. Here are some of our top tips.
- Let (some of) your garden grow wild and leave piles of leaves or long grass to provide shelter for animals and nesting spots for birds.
- Think about building or buying a bird box. Different birds have different size requirements and some birds don’t mind hanging houses while others prefer a bit of stability. A mounting post allows you to put the nesting box where you can see it. Don’t nail the house to a tree as it damages the tree.
- Make a hole in the pond if it freezes over to let the toxins out. The best way to do this is to heat a pan of water and allow this to thaw a hole. Avoid using force or boiling water as this could harm pond life. There are lots of different options for making a pond, we like this one
- If you have a spare patch of earth you might want to try your hand at building a simple hedgehog house with a sheet of wood and some bricks.
- Hedgehogs regularly roam over a mile each night during their active season, so it’s important that they have a wide range of gardens to explore. Make a “hedgehog hole” of around 13 x 13cm (5 x 5”) in walls or fences – big enough to let hedgehogs through while too keeping your pets safe.
Hedgehog in leaves
Only put small amounts of food out to help garden wildlife. Too much and they might end up dependant on you.
- Fruit. Apples, berries etc. will be appreciated by birds, squirrels and badgers.
- Nuts. Bird feeders full of nuts and seeds will bring birds and squirrels into the garden. Make sure these are hung up out of the way of adventurous cat paws! We like this fun guide to making up-cycled bird feeders from the RSPB.
- Pet food will encourage hedgehogs to return. Leave out tinned dog or cat food that is not fish-based and crushed dog or cat biscuits. Don’t leave milk out for hedgehogs as it can cause diarrhoea. Fresh water in a shallow bowl is fine.
- Clean and fresh water in saucers for birds and animals to drink and wash in. Don’t forget to replenish, especially when it’s icy.
We hope you find these tips helpful and enjoy many sightings of wildlife in your garden over the winter months.