Home & Garden Gardening

Happy Habitat

Whatever outdoor space you may have available it is perfectly possible to create your own wildlife reserve at home and the following guide lines will show you how!

1. The Bees Knees

Gardens are extremely important for bumble bees, which need flowers for sustenance, and flowers need bees for pollination. From March to September "" the bumble bee"s life cycle "" is the time you need to provide flowers. It is a good idea to have at least two pollen-rich plants in flower during this period. The nectar feeds the adult bee whilst the pollen is collected to feed the young. Choose the single flowered rose family which includes crab apple and hawthorn, as well as the irresistible fennel, angelica and cow parsley. Tubular shaped flowers such as foxgloves and snapdragons are all favourite feeding places.

2. Feed the Birds

Birds help to keep your garden naturally free from slugs and other pests, and consume windfall fruits. Experts advise putting food out for them all year round. Buy a simple mix of sunflower and canary seeds with hemp and husk-free oats. An egg shaped porcelain feeder is stylish and easy to clean to prevent the build-up of bacteria. Remember they need clean drinking water too. Put extra nesting material in bird boxes during the winter as this is the time birds will be checking out spots to breed in the spring. They will be attracted to fences covered with honeysuckle and ivy, and crab apple trees are ideal for small gardens.

3. Spiky Critters

Severe pruning, mowing and raking wipes out all the cosy nooks that hedgehogs love, so allow one area of the garden to have long grasses, a compost heap and piles of leaves! A hedgehog"s natural diet consists of bugs and beetles as well as slugs and snails which they will forage for themselves. Avoid putting down slug pellets as they can kill if eaten. Make sure no drains are uncovered and if there is a garden pond ensure there is an escape route if the hedgehog falls in!

4. Pond Life

Garden pond life provides a splendid resource for birds to drink and bathe. For amphibians such as the common toad, it is an ideal breeding ground. They spawn in March and are always welcome as they get rid of slugs in borders or vegetable patches. Dragonflies and damselflies are quick to colonise a new pond. Oxygenating plants are essential - choose water forget-me-nots and water avens for the best results.

5. The Professionals

Whilst you are concentrating on attracting the wildlife, you may want to choose a reliable professional company such as gardeners Mitcham to provide you with eco-friendly care which will keep the rest of your garden looking healthy all year round.


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