6. Make a log pile. This one's easy. Get hold of some logs, pile them up in a corner, and leave. Little creatures will move in. Log piles are really good for invertebrates like ladybirds.
to create your own little green space
Creating a garden that's fantastic for wildlife may be easier than you think. Here are 10 simple ideas to get you started
1. Feed the birds. The UK's wild bird population has declined over the last 40 years. A few feeders in your garden will attract a variety of different birds and help birds survive through winter.
Try peanuts for blue tits, nyger seed for finches and apples for thrushes and blackbirds. Some kitchen scraps are suitable too, and are free – grated cheese and cooked rice will give birds a welcome energy boost. Remember to provide water, and in winter check that the water supply has not frozen over.
Having birds regularly visiting the garden is lovely in itself, but they are also useful allies – many wild birds feed on garden pests such as aphids and caterpillars.
2. Plant a butterfly garden. Choosing nectar-rich shrubs and perennials will attract beneficial insects. Butterflies and bees love buddleia, sedums, lavender, thyme and field scabious. Hoverflies particularly enjoy marigolds and daisies.
Many of these plants are easy to grow and need little maintenance. And if expense is an issue, seed packets of annuals such as cosmos, borage and love-in-a-mist can be bought cheaply.
Apples, raspberries, broad beans and courgettes – amongst others – all rely on insects for pollination, so it makes sense to get these six-legged helpers buzzing about.
3. Build a pond. This is one of the best things you can do to attract wildlife as ponds are a disappearing habitat in Britain. Frogs, toads, newts, dragonflies and damsel flies will take up residence within a few months of a pond appearing. Birds, bats and small mammals may also visit for a drink. Added bonus: frogs and toads keep garden pests like slugs under control.
9. Put up a nesting box. Within 10 years a nesting box can provide shelter for 100 baby blue tits. Or, at the other extreme, if you have space, try a barn owl box.
5. Plant a tree. Trees soak up CO2 and are terrific for wildlife – your planted tree could provide food and shelter for birds, bats and bees for hundreds of years!
Little Green Space January 2016
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4. Leave an area of your lawn uncut. The UK's wildflower meadows have disappeared on a vast scale – which is bad news for the invertebrates, birds and mammals that rely on this type of habitat. Leaving a patch of grass to grow long will allow wild flowers to grow, which will attract hoverflies, butterflies and bees. Frogs and small mammals will shelter in the long grass, and the increased insect activity will attract insect-feeding birds and bats. And 1.5m of uncut grass provides enough oxygen for one adult for one year.
7. Plant a hedge. This requires a bit more effort, but hedges are so good for wildlife. They provide pathways and shelter for small mammals. Thrushes, dunnocks and finches will use the hedgerow for nesting. Berries provide food for birds and mammals in winter; in spring and summer, blossoms are a source of nectar for bees and butterflies. Hawthorn, buckthorn, and holly are all good hedging plants.
8. Create a wild area. Find a corner. Put in some branches or twigs, and maybe a pile of dry leaves. Leave it alone. Let wild plants like nettles and thistles grow. Hedgehogs, frogs and toads love this sort of environment, as they hate to be disturbed. If you don't like the look of it, put up a trellis and grow honeysuckle over it.
10. Make a bug hotel. Find a quiet corner and make a stack of three or four builder's pallets. Tuck a range of different materials into the gaps: try dry twigs, moss, cardboard tubes, cracked mugs, pinecones and dead, hollow stems from herbaceous plants. Invertebrates such as ladybirds will love all the nooks and crannies you have created, and will reward you with their pest-eating services when they emerge from hibernation in spring. If you leave a few larger gaps in your bug hotel, you may find you also have a frog, a toad – or even a hedgehog – taking up residence.