As Earth Day 2013 comes around on April 22, our thoughts turn to how we can all protect our precious environment.
Turning your garden into a happy haven for wildlife helps the environment, provides hours of fun for children, educates them about nature, and makes it aesthetically appealing. Here are top tips for attracting insects and animals into your garden:
Grow pollen-rich plants Nectar- and pollen-rich plants are a favourite of bees and butterflies. It’s best to have at least two pollen-rich plants flowering in your garden during bees’ life cycle between March and September. There are lots of plants that will attract butterflies or bees throughout the seasons. For example, in spring, you can include bluebells; in early summer, you can opt for foxgloves or snapdragons; while in late summer, bees love lavender, ivy and cornflowers. Butterflies also like sunflowers, lilac and marigolds.
Use a water feature Having a water feature doesn’t necessarily mean having a pond (which can be
hazardous with young children anyway). Even just a bowl of water set into the ground will encourage frogs
and newts to spawn.
Create a home to hide under A simple pile of logs will attract insects, fungi, mice, worms, newts and even toads, while a rockery will encourage all manner of creatures, from spiders and woodlice to beetles.
Let it grow Try to resist trimming some plants back during the winter months. These plants’ seeds will become an important source of food. The same applies to lawns. Leaving a section of your lawn uncut will encourage small creatures to set up home in the long grass.
Provide food Put out a variety of nuts, seeds and fat balls to attract birds when natural food sources are scarce during the chilly winter months.
Rise and climb Plants such as ivy, honeysuckle and clematis are climbers and, like hedges, offer shelter to birds and butterflies.
Buy a box You can buy specially built bat and hedgehog boxes that will provide a comfy home for hibernation. To buy one, visit www.gardengiftshop.co.uk
Avoid chemicals Try not to use chemicals in your garden, particularly when it comes to controlling insects. Chemicals get into the food chain and can kill wildlife. By creating a haven for wildlife, pests can be controlled in natural ways. For example, birds, frogs and newts will eat pesky bugs, such as aphids and slugs.