How to Build a Wildlife Garden
Creating a wildlife garden is lots of fun and a great way to teach kids about the natural world around them. They’ll love being outside, getting their hands dirty and helping to create a home for local birds, insects and mammals.
Wildlife gardens are becoming increasing important as natural habitats are being destroyed and native species need to find new homes.
Planting up your Wildlife Garden
To attract wildlife into your garden you’ll need different plants to provide food and shelter throughout the year.
All plants are unique and prefer certain conditions to thieve, some like rich soil, others prefer poorer soil, some like sun, some shade.
Wildflowers are easy to grow and thrive on poor soil. They’ll attract insects and provide seeds for visiting birds. Try cowslip, ox-eye daisy and meadow buttercup.
In shaded areas woodland flowers will grow best. Try bluebells and foxgloves.
Walls and fences
If you have a small area surrounded by walls or a fence you should plant climbers. These will provide shelter for nesting birds and hibernating insects. Choose plants that will provide nectar in the autumn and berries in late winter. Try ivy, clematis, roses and firethorn (Pyracantha).
A hedge will protect your garden from strong winds and provide food and shelter. Use a mixture of plants. Try hawthorn, blackthorn, beech, hornbeam and holly for structure and wild rose, bramble and honeysuckle to grow through your hedge.
Different species will be attracted to different types of shelter. To attract lots of different species into your garden have more than one type of shelter in your garden.
These provide a great shelter. Depending on where you put your log pile, for example in the sun or shade, you’ll attract different wildlife. You can create a ‘stumpery’ by half burying your logs.
These will attract creatures who prefer drier conditions, such as spiders. You may even see sun-loving lizards. Frogs and toads may hibernate in the nooks and crannies.
With natural nesting sites in decline bird houses are vital in providing a safe nesting place. You could either buy one or make your own. Make sure you clean out your bird house after each years residents have left.
These attract a variety of mini beasts. You could buy one from your local garden centre but they are easy, and lots of fun, to make. You could make several and locate them in different areas in your garden.
We have a Five Flamingo guide to building a bug hotel – with ideas for building a large hotel for lots of different animals to a small, quick and easy hotel even little kids can create!
Ponds are a really effective way of attracting wildlife to your garden – if you don’t have space for a pond a large pot or inverted dustbin lid will do. A shallow pond is great for tadpoles whilst a deeper pond will attract mini beasts such as newts and dragonflies. Always make sure your pond has a sloping side to allow creatures an easy way out. The best time to build any new pond is in the spring.
Plants: Add water lily, yellow flag iris, purple loosetrife and marsh marigold.
Monitoring your wildlife
It may take some time before your garden is full of wildlife. Mini beasts and birds will be first visitors followed by larger species and before you know it your wildlife garden will be bursting with inhabitants!
Sit quietly and observe the behaviour of the different wildlife in your garden. Make bird lists, keep mammal records, carry out invertebrate counts and note the dates of any first sightings. And most importantly – enjoy your garden!
More Outdoor Activity Ideas
Mini Beast Hunt!
Go into your garden or take a trip to your local park or woodland for your mini beast hunt! Print out our Five Flamingo ‘Mini Beast Hunt’ record sheet to record what you find.
Build a Bug Hotel
Instructions for both a simple bug hotel and a more complex design.
More Mini Beast Activities
Have fun with our fantastic mini beast activities.
We’ve got lots of rainy day activities. Have a look at all our craft activities.
The Wildlife Trust website lists ways in which you can get more involved including events by location, places to visit and ideas for fundraising.