Wildlife loving Britons are being offered nine top tips to encourage wildlife into their garden during the colder months.
The experts at GardeningExpress.co.uk have put together advice for gardeners wanting to create refuge for feathered friends, bugs and other wildlife as the temperature drops.
They suggest holding back on some gardening jobs, like cutting hedges, clearing ivy and removing dry plant stems as all can provide refuge or food for wildlife.
Other recommendations include leaving out food, providing a shallow dish of water and making a bug hotel.
Chris Bonnett from GardeningExpress.co.uk said: “The colder months can be tough for the insects, birds and wildlife visiting our gardens, but there’s lots we can do to make it easier for them.
“Simple things like not cutting hedges, and piling leaves into a corner create natural habitats which will provide shelter and warmth.
“Remember to leave out food and water. Food can be sparse during the colder months so anything us gardeners can do to help is certainly worth doing.”
Here are GardeningExpress.co.uk’s tips for attracting wildlife into your garden:
- Avoid cutting hedges
If your garden hedge needs a trim, leave it until the end of winter. Hedges are a good habitat for nesting wildlife and the berries can be eaten by birds and other animals.
- Leave ivy growing
If you have ivy growing along walls or fences, leave it there until Spring. The berries are a great source of food and it can create an evergreen cover for insects in your garden when everything else is dying off.
- Dry plant stems
Leave these standing in the garden rather than pulling up and throwing away. Insects will crawl into these during the cold weather. When you do cut them down, leave a while for any napping insects to crawl out.
- Leave out food
Food isn’t as plentiful for wildlife during autumn and winter. Leave out fat blocks for the birds. Try leaving out bacon rind, cheese, grain mix and nuts.
- Make a bug hotel
A bug hotel in a sheltered spot is the perfect winter habitat for insects like ladybirds. Start by piling up some logs then fill in the gaps using some deadwood, this will make it all cosy inside. You can then fill the rest of the bug hotel with materials like straw, hay, bark and leaves.
- Provide water
A shallow dish of water should be left at ground level for wildlife needing a drink. This is particularly important when it’s very cold and icy – normal drinking spots may freeze over.
- Clean out the pond
Do clear any debris from your garden pond early on and leave a small ball floating on the surface. If it does freeze over, this will allow the air to circulate.
- Clearing leaves
If you’re clearing leaves from the lawn or path, move them to a corner of the garden or under hedges so wildlife can crawl into them for shelter.
- Put up a bird box
Think about putting a bird box up in the garden. On the really cold nights, it may get a few feathered visitors.