Winter can be tough on people and wildlife in the UK. The temperatures drop, food becomes scarce, and the nights draw in. This makes it difficult for native animals to find cosy and safe spots to hibernate until the spring, and it can make it hard for others to find food and survive the cold season. As the human population grows and takes over more of our natural areas, this can put a further strain on our wildlife. Fortunately, there are a number of things that we can do to make outdoor areas a sanctuary for wildlife. To help you get started, here are 7 ways to make your garden wildlife-friendly this winter.
Fill Bird Feeders
Offering fat balls and cakes to birds during the winter will provide them with plenty of calories, which will support them during the colder months. You should remove mesh bags before putting the food out. Open feeders and tables will attract squirrels and other pests, making less food available to the birds. In order to purchase the right bird supplies for your garden this winter, you should take a look at Little Peckers. Here, you can browse a wide range of bird food and bird feeders, plus more, for a great price.
Leave Things Messy
As the weather becomes wetter and the leaves fall from the trees, your garden can become messy fast. Even though you may be tempted to clean it, leaving an area of your garden naturally messy will create a fantastic source of materials for dormice, hedgehogs and other wildlife. They will use dead vegetation and fallen leaves and twigs to build their nests. If you have the space to leave a wild area, then this will offer a home for a number of insects, which will provide food for birds and hedgehogs.
Build Winter Homes
Leaving a natural mess in your garden can provide useful nesting materials for wildlife, but to give native birds and mammals more support, you can build winter homes for them in your garden. For example, you can build a hedgehog house from woodpiles, which will give them a safe area to hunt for insects, hide and sleep. Compost heaps can also provide a cosy location for shelter during winter. Nesting boxes for small birds will give them a safe place during winter and a place to nest for spring.
Uncover the Pond
Keeping your pond uncovered is important during the winter. Unless your pond is very shallow, it’s unlikely to freeze over the winter. If it doesn’t freeze, it will become a vital spot for birds and mammals to drink from, and it will support a range of insects as food. This will turn your pond into an important resource when food and water are scarce. Your pond will be useful for toads and frogs before they rest for winter. Also, birds like to clean their feathers and hedgehogs like to bathe before they hibernate.
Get a Birdbath
If you don’t have a pond, then you can still provide a place for birds to bathe and drink during winter with a birdbath. You will need to make sure the birdbath and any other water features are kept clean, topped up and ice-free during the winter. In order to stop your birdbath from freezing, you should put a tennis ball in it, as the breeze will move it and stop the water from freezing. Moving the birdbath to a sunny spot, or pouring warm water on the ice will keep the water available for birds to use.
Add Some Foliage
Adding hedges and late flowering plants in your garden will improve the way your garden looks during winter, while providing shelter and food to your local wildlife. Pollen and nectar can be in short supply during the colder months, so planting late-flowering plants will create a great source of food for pollinators and insects that will feed the birds. Installing a hedge instead of a fence for privacy will provide a cosy spot for garden wildlife and will make your garden look fresh and natural.
Don’t Forget Bugs
When it comes to supporting your local wildlife during winter, bugs, butterflies and other insects tend to be forgotten about. Making a butterfly box or a bug home for your local creepy crawlies will give them a place to sleep comfortably while it’s cold outside. Some species of butterfly may be caught hibernating in outhouses, trees, sheds and hollows, but it is best to leave them alone until spring. Most insects will survive as eggs, pupae or larvae in crevices and cracks, or by burrowing deep underground.
Making your garden a wildlife-friendly spot for all creatures during the winter does not require much work, and in some cases, it will reduce the amount you need to do in your garden during the colder months. Whatever you do, you will be able to support a number of species and see the results of your kindness.