Matt Baker: how to create space for wildlife in your garden

The Countryfile presenter on the importance of encouraging wildlife in our outside spaces

Butterfly sitting on lavender in garden
Published: March 28th, 2022 at 12:23 pm

There’s plenty we can all do to encourage wildlife into whatever outside space we have. Whether it’s leaving a wild area in your garden, planting to make your garden as attractive as possible to wildlife or putting out a window box.

On our land we’ve always farmed with wildlife in mind. As the farm is organic, we cut our hay later to make sure ground nesting birds have fledged, and the flower meadows are rich with grasses, herbs and flowers that the insects love. We have plenty of hedgerows that provide berries and nuts for the birds throughout the year, with a habitat to nest in and areas that are a little more ‘rugged'.

On our farm in the Chilterns we created a pond, which has been a huge hit with wildlife. The birds use it to bathe and drink; we have frogs, dragonflies and even a fox that occasionally drinks there, too. There’s always something more you can do to add to what you’ve got. We sowed wildflower seeds around the pond last year and the flowers increased insect numbers dramatically. There were already a lot but it was teaming with life around the pond, so this is something we’re going to continue this year. We’ve put in log piles, hibernaculums (underground shelters), and the kids have put up butterfly boxes and various bird boxes everywhere.

Small garden pond

Food for all

We’ve also been thinking about what we’re planting to try and provide as many flowers and sources of food for wildlife all year round. Just putting some different plants in to extend what’s available to wildlife will keep them coming back to your patch when pickings are lean elsewhere. Over the years, family have given us hedgehog houses, frog shelters, bug hotels and so on for birthdays and Christmas and there’s always a bit of excitement whenever they’re in use. Whatever wildlife you’re trying to attract there is loads of advice out there to help you. It’s all a balance. We like having ‘zones’ in the garden. Somewhere nice to sit with a glass of wine in the evening, an old pile of logs for the insects somewhere else, a wild patch of grass and somewhere for the kids to kick a ball.

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, splitting it means everyone can enjoy it – humans and wildlife. Kids can play in their area without disturbing the hedgehog family, and birds are encouraged to sit somewhere other than your garden furniture so you don’t have to clear up bird poo before you sit down. Bringing wildlife into your garden is wonderful and it’s very possible to live in harmony together by making the most of a garden space.

Main image: Create a wildlife garden to support bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other pollinators as well as other insects./Credit: Getty



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