Work with nature to secure biodiversity in your garden or allotment. By creating habitat now for all manner of wildlife, you can help birds, insects, and beneficial predators survive the winter to aid balance in your plot next year.
- Build a bee hotel over autumn ready to welcome visitors in spring. Collect twigs, pine cones, and leaves when out walking to add to old bricks, broken bamboo canes, and bits of wood to offer different habitats in your hotel which may just welcome bug visitors over winter too.
2. Leave ornamental grasses over winter before cutting down as the base foliage provides overwintering shelter for beetles and ladybirds.
3. Bird feeders do not have to be hung from trees. Look for nooks and crannies in your garden like hollows in trees or rocks that could hold a handful of bird seed without getting waterlogged.
4. Spent sunflower heads make wonderful bird feeders so do not be too hasty in cutting them down or if you feel you have to, hang the flowerhead for the birds to enjoy.
5. Add a bird box to the side of a shed or garage or pop on a fence to provide winter shelter for birds.
6. If you have existing bird boxes, clear out any debris and pour boiling water in and around the box if possible, to get rid of any harmful parasites.
7. Place deep saucers or shallow bowls filled with water around the garden to provide an essential supply for birds and insects during dry, autumnal days. Be sure to add a ramp of stones around the edge and from the inside out to allow smaller insects and birds easy and safe access.
8. Cut a slot at the bottom of your fence at least 12cm square to allow hedgehogs to move freely from garden to garden. Hedgehogs can wander up to a mile or more each night in search of food before their winter hibernation.
9. If you are collecting leaves from your garden to make into leaf mould, leave a small pile in a corner unbagged to be used by hedgehogs for nest bedding or to become shelter for wildlife.
10. Pile logs, twigs, and branches in a corner to provide habitat for frogs, toads, and newts as well as a host of insects looking for overwintering accommodation.
11. Be sure to float a ping pong ball on the surface of your pond during winter to prevent the surface from icing over. This allows more oxygen through for any submerged frogs.
12. If you have a pond, no matter how small, be sure to check that you have rocks and pebbles stacked in a gentle ramp to allow wildlife access to and from your pond.