There are four main ingredients in order to produce a successful wildlife garden which means making a garden as attractive as possible to animals.

These are:

  1. Food
  2. Water
  3. Shelter
  4. Breeding places

By thinking about these and customising them to suit a particular animal, we can build it all into the fabric of our own garden so that we will not be the only ones to enjoy it!

Just like a home, a garden should be a place of relaxation where we and animals/insects are happy to be. All it takes is a little creative planning, preparation and elbow grease!

Food and water are essential in welcoming wildlife and will guarantee a return if not a habitat. A pond (large or small) will boost the biodiversity (i.e. the variation of life forms) of any garden (although, of course, were young children and pets are present care needs to be taken and they should never be left without supervision). If this is the case, or where the garden is particularly small, even a bucket or barrel filled with water and adorned by useful plants will fulfil a useful function. A bird bath can give hours of pleasure not only to the birds but to the owners of the garden as they watch and observe the activity of the birds.

A bird table is a useful and ornate piece of furniture to have and there are so many nut and seed preparations available to entice the birds.

Colourful plants and bushes will attract pollen and nectar loving insects and again, even if your garden is not big, all sorts of patio pots with colourful plants can be bought and placed in strategic places to do this.

Try to get a mix of plants and flowers with a range of blooming times in the garden in order to maximise the colours and scents available. The month of March heralds Spring and this is a critical time for many insects and so spring flowers are very important. Also, try to choose flowers whose heads are 'open' and simple in terms of access. Many 'designer' flowers with 'double' heads are difficult for insects to tackle.

Nooks and crannies, dark little corners, alcoves and spaces will provide ideal shelters for wildlife. A few logs placed around the boundaries of the garden will provide structure and protection for small mammals and insects and again, will boost biodiversity.

Our gardens should be stable ecosystems which promote biodiversity so that there will be less infestations of a particular species because there will be enough natural predators to keep them in check. If we have an infestation in our gardens of any one species, instead of resorting to chemicals to poison, we should consider food webs and try to entice natural predators.

Like us, if animals enjoy our gardens, they will return to them and spend time in them, perhaps even start up a family and set up home!

Susan Stewart

PDF Making a Butterfly Garden