You’ll have seen this term ‘wildflife gardening’ on our website or maybe heard us talking about it in person, but what exactly is wildlife gardening? And what does it entail?
Simply, It means catering your garden to wildlife.
That doesn’t mean that your garden has to be scruffy and unkempt! A garden can be quite beautifully landscaped, but with wildlife in mind.
Even a wildlife garden still needs some management, certain areas you can just leave to it, but a conscious choice of plants and habitat creation is great.
There’s no set way to do it either, it’s not prescriptive. A few things and ideas help, but there’s flexibility about the size and positioning and what you want /can do. For example, most insects typically prefer native plants, but again, your garden doesn’t need to be 100% native to attract wildlife.
Not everything will work with the space you have, you can try with both small and big spaces. It’ll also depend somewhat on the soil and sun exposure.
You also don’t need to use your whole garden. If you very much need a lawn or patio, that’s fine. We have to be practical. It’s never all or nothing; even a little could help.
It also depends on what wildlife is already nearby, as what some creatures love, others don’t care for. So you can design it however and for whoever you want.
It helps if you start to learn about what wildlife is local and what they need.
So, if you’re interested, start keeping a lookout in your garden and the neighbourhood. What do you see? What do you hear? If you begin to recognise some, perhaps birds or butterflies (they’re generally easy to identify), then you can create the perfect home for them, the key is to look at both food and shelter if you really want them to be happy in your garden.
It does help to be specific for different creatures. Different caterpillars like different leaves, birds have all sorts of different needs. Catering to hedgehogs is quite different too.
But importantly, you don’t need to be a wildlife expert to get started. You can do many broad things like creating shelters, which includes planting shrubs and trees, creating log piles, leaving dead leaves on the ground, and putting up nest boxes.
You can also provide food in the form of plants and food you leave out etc. Planting nectar-rich flowers will entice all kinds of pollinators, and putting out birdseed is a great start—hedgehogs like a saucer of cat or dog food.
Providing water is great. For example, a pond built with wildlife in mind will also become lively with wildlife activity with a month or so. Or a bird bath gives birds a much needed drink.
You may find over time you start to learn who visits your garden and who maybe has a chance of visiting but hasn’t found you yet, so you can start to tailor to their needs!
If you start keeping a little log of who visits, I bet you’ll begin to see a big change over the year with small improvements!
It’s a fun adventure and very much a journey. We are looking forward to seeing your gardens.
We have loads more in-depth blog posts on flowers, creating shelters, specific animals, wildflower meadows and more too.
If you want to help Improve where you live in Wigan, for your own well-being and for wildlife, see how you can get involved, we'd love to hear from you.