Some people thing of gardens as desolate and bleak during the winter months. However, there are some ways that you can inject some life. One of the most effective ways to do this is to focus on providing a safe haven for the local wildlife.
The first species to think about are our feathered friends, the birds. Putting up bird tables and feeders is a great way to encourage birds to visit your garden. During the winter, food and shelter is more scarce, so they will really appreciate anything you can do. Being well fed over the winter will increase their chances of having offspring in the spring and nesting in or near your garden.
When putting out feeders it’s important to sterilise them and then maintain the hygiene by washing them every month.
On the ground
A lot of people over-tidy their gardens as winter approaches, but this isn’t the right thing to do if you want to embrace wildlife. Frogs, beetles, ladybirds and many others really appreciate a bit of leaf litter and a few odd house bricks. Even keeping some plants with dying stems and leaves can help some creatures to prosper
One area where you can focus some of your desire to tidy up is your flower beds. You could introduce some wild flowers to maintain some colour over the cold months. Also, you could introduce some hedging in the place of other summer plants, which will increase the appeal for wildlife. Further, you could introduce some species such as hawthorn in order to improve the natural diversity.
Spreading some leaf litter over your flowerbeds will provide a nice environment for ground feeders like thrushes to forage.
Making a splash
Installing a pond is another great way to add some variation to your garden and provide a habitat for wildlife.
Dead plants and leaves can pollute your pond during the winter, so as the cold sets in it’s a good idea to have a clean out. However, make sure that you sort through the vegetation that you remove and rescue small animals such as snails and dragonfly nymphs.
If you have a pond filter then you should remove it during the colder months. The ice can cause the filter to freeze and break.
Consider installing a pond heater to prevent it from icing over. There are different types of heater though, so make sure that you don’t get one that heats the whole body of water. You just need it to provide a little heat near the surface to fight off the ice.
Which visitors to expect
- Beetles, particularly the violet ground beetle, which you’ll likely see looking for words amongst the flower beds.
- Wrens – If you put a well insulated bird box up then you’re likely to attract a few of the little fellas as they look to keep warm
- Toads – If you have a pond, you’re likely to see some males in there. But also you might find others under any leaf litter you have lying around
- Blackbirds and Thrushes will be on the hunt amongst the leaf litter in your flower beds
- Robins – the archetypal winter bird might show its face if you live near woodland or have a lot of hedgerows
Best of luck!
Images courtesy of digidreamgrafix and James Barker / FreeDigitalPhotos.net