Naturescaping your yard is the best way to attract wild creatures to your garden – and make it a far better place for those animals who live permanently in our gardens like amphibians, fish and voles.
Naturescaping can attract many forms of wildlife to the garden is a sure way of increasing interest.
Naturescaping borrows features from the wild and brings them into the garden. Using natural materials, you can enhance the space to feel like part of nature itself. The results will amaze you and it is wonderful how easily out wild creatures make use of anything the gardener offers.
Access is important so allow a few gaps in the hedge or fence so hedgehogs, voles and mice can get in and out of the garden area. If you have slugs and other pests, hedgehogs will find them because every hedgehog has a 2 mile track, from which it veers only to feed. Each year the new offspring are abandoned by their mom at 10 weeks and must find their own track. If your garden has food (and hedgehogs can smell food from over a quarter of a mile away), they will find it, so allow them ways in and out and you may find your garden becomes part of their new track.
Also, allow a beach area for your pond (or a ramp) so animals can drink and get away if disturbed. Animals like badgers can actually drown if they cannot get out of a pond, as although they can swim, they become exhausted.
Allow foliage to come close the the pond too so small animals can approach the water in safety.
The trick to naturescaping is to give the animals something they want. This usually, but not always, means providing a food source. Not necessarily putting food out for them, although nuts and feeding balls will undoubtedly attract birds but rather choosing plants which provide a more natural harvest such as nectar, berries or nuts which will in turn attract wildlife.
Providing other services such as nesting materials, safe places to nest like an undisturbed meadow area or nest boxes in trees are known to attract wild animals in. You must be careful however that the animals you attract will not do damage to the garden itself.
A meadow area provides cover, food and nesting areas for a variety of small animals , as well as feeding areas for birds, hedghogs, badgers and squirrels. You just cut it down once a year after the flowers have seeded.
In your beds, plant shrubs and flowers to attract wildlife such as Buddleia davidii (butterfly bush), cotoneasters, ribes (flowering currant), Lavendula and Ilex (holly). Border plants include aster (michaelmas daisies), aubretia, centranthus, nepeta (catmint) and Salvia officinalis (sage). Annuals can make great displays and those that attract wild life include iberis (candytuft), Centaurea cyanus (cornflower), Tagetes patula (French marigolds), heliotropium and helianthus (sunflowers). Even trees can be chosen for the wildlife they attract. The best include Prunus (cherry, plum), oak, (an oak tree can support over 300 species of insects) and beech.
Many herbs provide flowers which are attractive to bees and butterflies as well as being useful plants in the garden and to grow for culinary use. for caterpillars and then moths or butterflies even certain ‘weeds’ are popular, such as ragwort for the black and yellow caterpillars of the cinnabar moth. There are many other plants that could be added to the above list but these are some of the more useful ones.
You can also include other features in your naturescape like building a snake den to attract snakes or larger dens for foxes. You can seek advice from appropriate organizations, such as the local wildlife trust.
Naturescaping your garden is fun, educational and relatively easy. Many plants which are attractive are also beneficial to insects and birds and if they produce seed heads, these can be beautiful too. Plan, think and naturescape – it is worth it.
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