Wildlife In Your Backyard: the Creature-friendly Garden Checklist


With habitats shrinking, many animals survive because they have found a niche in city and suburban gardens. We share the planet, rather than being landlords and conservation is about co-habiting in our world. Encouraging and protecting wildlife in our gardens is a small but important step to help maintain ecological balance.

°              Limit or eliminate heavy-duty pesticides. Nurseries can advise on the most environmentally friendly options to deal with various bugs and marauders. There may be ways of protecting your plants (netting, companion planting and so on) rather than zapping the creatures that like them too. If you have space, consider planting a bit more than you need in your vegetable patch.

°              Wild bird feeders not only help birds, but they will eat many bugs, slugs and other garden pests. An ecologically-balanced garden is not just good for wildlife but will ultimately benefit your plants. Eliminating one pest often only results in an upsurge in another, so aim to keep pest numbers down rather than getting rid of them altogether.

°              Leave undisturbed areas for insects, reptiles and small mammals. There is a trend for designer gardens that look more like exterior rooms than natural environments, but the two can co-exist in the same space. Leaving a strip of untended garden along fences provides a habitat. If it looks untidy – which is how real nature often does look – planting something in front to hide it is usually easily done. The herbaceous border or conventional bed design, with tall plants at the back, should serve this purpose anyway.

°              The trend for paving front lawns to create parking spaces for cars may seem to be low-impact but a few square metres paved over in one garden, multiplied by thousands of others country-wide, adds up to thousands of acres of habitat loss. If you’re planning to pave or gravel a space, leaving some space around the edge for your fellow creatures really does make a difference.

°              Use plants that wildlife likes. For example, the butterfly bush (*) really does bring butterflies thronging to it, and creates a beautiful sight. People often rip out hedges in favour of fences that don’t require trimming and maintenance, but a hedge provides a rich and secure micro-environment for a wide variety of garden creatures. If you don’t have a hedge consider planting one. Not all require constant clipping and the right hedging plant can be both functional and a visual treat.

°              Pets can be a serious threat to garden creatures. Some dogs can be trained out of worrying small mammals and other garden residents. Few owners think to actively teach their dogs to leave creatures alone but it can work. Cats usually can’t be trained, though the well-fed cat is less likely to go snack-hunting. Limiting a cat’s free access to the garden at night and in the early morning when many creatures are active can at least contain the damage.

°              If you’re doing building or landscaping, consider gentle hand-clearing of the area before bringing in the bulldozer. It will give your fellow creatures a sporting chance to relocate.

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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