Winter Wildlife Gardening Tips
Six things that you can do over winter to help wildlife in your own garden...
1. Feed the birds – Hanging up a simple feeder for the birds will really make a difference as they struggle to find food over the winter, especially on freezing days. Make sure you keep your feeder stocked up until at least spring, as once birds know where it is some will make a special journey burning off vital energy just to visit.
2. Water Source – It may seem as though our winter days are wet enough but providing a source of water in the garden is essential for much of our wildlife, especially birds. Any source of water can be important whether it be a birdbath or a small shallow bowl. Make sure that you don't let it freeze over as that is when it is most crucial in winter. The best way to do this is to physically break the frozen top or to add warmer water to thaw (avoid adding salts or any other additives).
3. Plant Trees – If you've got the space planting a tree is an excellent way to increase the biodiversity of your garden, supporting a wide range of wildlife. Even dwarf trees can be planted in smaller gardens. Winter is a good time to plant trees so long as the ground isn't too frozen. Go for something with nice flowers that are most beneficial to insects or alternatively you can't go wrong with a nice native tree. Be sure to check that you are happy with the projected final size of the variety you choose. Many fruit trees for instance are available on dwarf rootstocks, meaning they will only ever grow 2-3 metres high. Perfect.
4. Do Nothing – Okay, strictly speaking this isn't something to do over winter but the fact is that one of the best things you can do in your garden over winter is to avoid disruption as much as possible. Much of the wildlife in your garden such as small mammals, amphibians, insects, etc. may be hibernating or overwintering, so as little disturbance as possible is best.
5. Make a habitat – Now that there isn't much else to do in the garden at this time of year it is the perfect chance to put out some kind of habitat for wildlife, providing an environment for nesting and sanctuary from predators. The choice is really up to you and it can be home-made or purchased. There is such a wide range of wildlife habitats that can be put in your garden that include frog houses, insect houses, bird nests (for small birds right through to owls), bat boxes and even hedgehog houses.
6. Plan your summer bedding – If you don't plan your summer planting in advance you may end up grabbing plants at the last minute which may not be all that useful to pollinators. Consider either pre-ordering some beneficial plants from retailers (many available online) or growing your own from seed. There is a much greater variety of pollinator friendly plants available in seed form and most are easily grown. They will requiring a little window sill space to start before they can be grown on and planted out at the usual time. Depending on the varieties you have chosen and your location you may want to start seeds off in February or March for early summer flowering.
(Hopefully this guide has been helpful. If it has please share with your twitter friends by using the tweet link at the bottom of the page.)