Giving Nature a Home is the campaign that the RSPB are using to encourage people across the UK to help wildlife. Think about the area that you live in and how many gardens, allotments, football pitches, parks and village greens there are. Now think about how many there must be in the whole of the UK.

A Report from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment found that 54% of urban England is greenspace, and that’s just urban England not to mention the rest of the UK. So that’s a lot of space that has the potential to be used by wildlife, unfortunately many of these greenspaces aren’t quite up to scratch, and that is where you come in.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a large garden or a tiny area of paving slabs, they both hold great potential to the fauna and flora of our country.

As many of you will already know, wildlife is not fairing all too well, in the UK 60% of our species have declined in the last 50 years, but fortunately by following some simple tips you can turn your garden into an exuberant oasis for yourself and for nature. To start off with, grow some flowering plants and shrubs.

This is hugely important as flowering plants attract insects such as bumblebees, butterflies, hoverflies and moths. These not only help to pollinate plants but also attract other animals which feed on them, such as bird and bat species.

For those you who are not avid gardeners, then never fear, you can simple spread some wildflower seeds onto a bed of soil or into a pot and leave them to their own devices (although if it’s been very dry then you might want to water them).

Inconspicuous plants such as stinging Nettles may grow crop up amongst the flowers, but maybe think twice before uprooting these ‘weeds’ as they can actually support up to 40 different insect species, including peacock and small tortoiseshell butterflies. Planting trees and shrubs is great as their berries, flowers and foliage feed wildlife, as well as supplying cover and a place to live for many animals.

Even in small gardens; try to fit in some sort of dwarf variety or climber, species such as crab apple, hawthorn, honeysuckle and dog rose are all great plants to use.

Tip 2, be less neat. By this I don’t mean you shouldn’t tend to your garden, I just mean that wildlife likes a diverse array of habitats which can mean that doing things as simple as having a small pile of dead wood in the garden or leaving an area of the lawn to grow a bit in height is a great way to attract things like butterflies and grasshoppers, and a wide array of species will use the dead wood pile.

Just before writing this article I went into my back garden and moved some logs and found centipedes, woodlice and worms, all of whom love the moist cool environment of dead wood.

Make shelter for wildlife. I have found this one by far the most rewarding. In my garden I have a hedgehog box amongst the hawthorn hedge, bird boxes which have blue tits and house sparrows nesting in them, bat boxes, bug hotels, a corrugated sheet that regularly has Slow worms under it, a pond (also good because it supplies water for animals to drink) with a diverse community of frogs, newts and invertebrates.

Fortunately my house has large eves where birds and bats can nest, but for houses that don’t have these, it may be a good idea to but swift or house martin boxes up to attract these awe-inspiring summer migrants.

My final tip would be to make sure you feed the birds and create a nature corridor. Putting bird seed out is especially important during the winter when times might be hard. Don’t forget to give your feeders the occasional wash down to prevent any nasty bacteria from growing there.

Creating a nature corridor is as simple as leaving a small gap in the fence so that wildlife can pass in and out of your garden with ease.

Give nature a home. That is something that I think we should all strive to do. If you want to get out outside, if you want a fun activity to do or if you simply want to help nature thrive, then please do so by giving nature a home, and don’t forget to let the RSPB know by using #homesfornature. For more ideas and information go to https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/makeahomeforwildlife/givenatureahomeinyourgarden/

Ben Rees

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