The winter months are in the past, and wildlife emerges from its sleep. It is a wonderful time of the year, as we all feel like we come alive again with the renewed birdsong. However, spring is still a challenging time for wildlife, as frosts are prevalent, and our desire for a tidy garden can cause problems.
Here we explore hints and tips on how to help the wildlife as we move through the changeable weather conditions.
Put out some food
Despite new life emerging, food sources are still going to be scarce. Spring is also the month when most birds lay eggs and go through the nesting and fledgling process.
Providing food for birds is easy as you can purchase bird food online or at your local garden center. While birds don’t need the fat balls that sustain them through winter, they would appreciate nuts, seeds, and grubs on your bird table.
Birds are not the only ones requiring food, and Hedgehogs would appreciate a dish of meaty dog food or cat food and a bowl of water.
Don’t clear up too quickly
We are too keen to clear out our gardens in the spring, and we cut back our borders, clear away detritus and mow our lawn. The problem here is that many insects overwinter in our gardens and are destroyed as we tidy up. Bees and butterflies are adversely affected by this, which has knock-on effects on pollination later in the year.
Consequently, it is best to leave the tidying of your garden until the temperature is consistently above 10 degrees.
It is also a good idea to leave your lawn later in the year. Naturalists recently asked gardeners not to mow in May so different grass species could emerge and help the local ecosystem flourish.
Leave parts of your garden wild
If leaving your lawn to go to seed is a step too far, you could section off a part of your garden and leave this wilder. If you don’t want this area to appear untidy, you can build a log pile or create a pile of leaves, which will create an ecosystem for small mammals, insects, and some amphibians, such as newts and frogs.
If you fancy encouraging ladybirds in your garden, you can bundle some bamboo canes together and place them in the nook of a tree. You will find this is the perfect environment for ladybirds to nest.
Another option is to change your fences for hedgerows, a natural, wild habitat for many species. Planting hawthorn, blackthorn, or hazel as a boundary marker will provide nesting sites and the berries and nuts essential for sustenance. It is also a great shaded spot for insect life to flourish, feeding small mammals.
Give access and shelter
For wildlife to flourish, it needs the same essentials of life that help us live comfortably. As well as food and water, you can also help by offering shelter.
For instance, you can remove a small section of a fence panel to allow access for hedgehogs and frogs into your garden. There are also hedgehog boxes where they can sleep free from the danger of predators, and a pond with plants will offer shelter for the frogs.
Choose plants wisely
Spring is also the season for new planting, and we can do much to help wildlife with the plants we choose. We can encourage bees and butterflies by planting pollen and nectar-rich plants such as rudbeckia, lavender, honeysuckle, and nepeta. While these visitors are wonderful additions to your garden, they are also essential to maintaining local ecosystems.
Planting roses and clematis are stunning additions to a garden and can provide nesting habitats for birds. Equally, planting apple, pear, or plum trees can help with nesting sites and provide food sources for wildlife going forward.
But a water butt
Your plants will thrive better if you use rainwater rather than tap water, which tends to be quite alkaline.
However, there are important consequences of this choice on the environment too. Over the summer, when water use is at its highest, water companies pull water from local rivers and streams, damaging wild ecosystems. By reducing your water use by capturing rainwater, you protect the environment and let wildlife flourish.
You can sit back and wait for a little before stripping back your garden this spring. Then, help wildlife some more by offering them the water, food, and shelter they need to thrive in your space.