The warm weather has us all enjoying our gardens. While you're out there, it's a great time to make some improvements to help wildlife, too. Here are four easy ways to garden for wildlife this summer.
Want more wildlife-friendly trees and shrubs? Now is the time to propogate cuttings so you can plant them out ready for next year. Photo: Getty
It’s easy to make lots of new plants for free from many of your herbaceous perennials, by taking cuttings. Using a sharp knife or secateurs, cut off about 10cm (4 inches) of fresh leafy growth just below a leaf node, remove all but the top couple of leaves, and plunge into gritty compost. Water well and cover with a propogator lid or clear plastic bag so that it doesn’t wilt. It should soon root and create a healthy new plant.
Focus on plants that attract wildlife. Try some of these trees and shrubs that are great for wildlife. Hawthorn is really easy and great for birds, insects, while providing nesting birds with dense, thorny, evergreen foliage to protect their chicks.
Keep birdbaths clean
Clean and scrub your birdbath often during summer, when sun-warmed water encourages algae growth. Photo: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Fresh water will be increasingly important for birds as the season progresses, so swish out bird baths and refill on a regular basis to prevent the build-up of harmful algae, dead leaves or bird droppings. Tap water is fine, but avoid using toxic cleaning products. We have some guidance on “How to keep the water clean” in a wildlife-friendly way.
• Seven ways to make your garden great for insects
• Five lazy wildlife gardening tips anyone can try
• How to plant a butterfly garden
Leave it be
Resist the urge to 'tidy up' during the summer nesting season. Deliberate neglect can be perfectly picturesque. Photo: Getty
If you can, part of your garden stay undisturbed during the nesting season, such as a quiet corner where shrubs and ground-cover plants grow densely. It will be a sanctuary for wildlife such as slow-worms, hedgehogs and nesting birds. Fledglings also appreciate dense cover to hide in, and it will also harbour insect life for them to feed upon.
Leaving part of the lawn unmown and letting it grow (add some native meadow flowers) will benefit wildlife such as butterflies and bees, while allowing brambles to climb up a corner or section of fence will provide an autumn feast and safe cover for birds.
You can even make a feature out of a deliberately neglected corner - add a stone birdbath or statue, a vintage piece of gardening kit, a bench or a trellis.
Check for potential
Could you add a little minibeast heap to your garden somewhere, to encourage insects - and the birds that eat them? Photo: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
As you soak up the glories of your summer garden, apply your mind to all the nooks and crannies that could work a bit harder for nature. Think about the plants and features in your garden, and about how each zone could be improved for wildlife - not just in the summer months but in the cooler months ahead. If you added a little something here or there, what wildlife could it attract? Could it provide something with autumn food, winter shelter, or summer breeding?
Why not drill holes in some logs or dead timber, to help solitary bees. Add a small pond to a corner of your garden to attract frogs, newts and dragonflies. Hang an old teapot in a tree to see if a robin wants to nest in it, or plant teasels against the fence to attract charms of goldfinches in winter. There’s heaps you can do - get started here.
Want to learn more about wildlife gardening? Sign up to become an RSPB member and receive our Nature’s Home magazine as part of your membership. Every issue contains inspirational wildlife gardens, helpful seasonal tips and expert info about British wildlife and conservation. As a member, you’ll also get free access to more than 170 reserves - as well as protecting the 16,000 species that live on them.
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