The ultimate goal for most gardeners is to have a space that’s teaming with wildlife. A diverse garden is a healthy garden, and birds are an important part of keeping it all balanced. They are the most effective non-chemical method of insect control, they’re pollinators and even take care of some of your weeding; its also really fun to watch them from your window. This guide will go over the basics of creating a garden that will successfully attract birds.
Step One – Prepare the space
Just like humans, birds like 5-star accommodation. Before adding bird tables and nesting boxes, you need to first make sure that your garden is somewhere birds want to visit. Below are a few of the first steps you should take to increase your chances of regular visitors
- Plant the correct trees – trees provide food, water and nesting space for birds as well as being an easy escape from predators. You want to strike a good balance of vegetation in your garden to make it interesting and to satisfy the needs of the birds you want to attract. Fruit trees bearing trees such as Crab apple and plum will provide food and safe space whilst larger species like Oak or Willow are great for shelter. Avoid Sycamores or Cherry trees as they attract insects that birds don’t
- Be clever with your flowers – there are an estimated 612 species of bird in the UK, and each one has different food and nesting needs, many are also only active at certain times of the year. Fill your garden with an array of plants that will provide food and nesting material year-round. In summer, try to provide sweet fruits like Blackberries and Mulberries and seeds from sunflowers. In spring you should provide fatty fruits like Mapleleaf and Dogwood whilst autumn and winter should be geared towards persistent fruits like Crabapples and Conifers. By providing year-round food you will see the birds in your garden change with the seasons, keeping it interesting and ever-changing. A list of the best plant choices can be found here
- Place shrubs and plants in same species clumps – in general, this is good practice to help with pollination and fruit yields, but birds love dense foliage to hide in and watch for predators. You will often find that these clumps attract large groups of smaller birds like finches, goldcrests and Wrens.
- Be insect friendly – inviting insects into your garden may sound counterproductive, but the right species help get rid of pests and aid pollination. You don’t need to worry about the populations getting too big either as they make a tasty snack for lots of bird species. Think about putting a bug hotel, Ladybird tower or Nectar feeder in your garden to establish a healthy and diverse insect species that will attract lots of hungry birds to your garden.
Step Two – Dress it up
Once you have the basics right you can start to add little extras that will keep the birds coming to your garden and make them stay longer.
- Provide Water – your plants will provide some water for your birds, but they could always do with a little more. Bird tables are a great way to provide this water as it’s suitable for both drinking and bathing, just ensure that any bird tabes are put close to shrubs so your birds feel safe from predators.
- Make Food Available Year-round – living in the wild is difficult, food is not always available and can cost a lot of energy to obtain. A garden that has a constant and varied supply of food is a win for any passing bird and they will certainly be repeat visitors. You should provide a good mixture of seeds and fat balls that change every now and then to keep birds interested.
- Put Up Nest Boxes – a garden with ample supplies of food and water is an ideal environment for birds to raise their young. Bird boxes provide shelter and secure living spaces to birds who are rearing their chicks. Place them in trees or up high to protect them from cats and other predators and ensure they are out of direct sunlight. You will get the best results from only putting up 1-2 boxes as many bird species don’t like to compete over feeding and nesting space.
Step Three – Make it safe
A safe garden is one that will bird will return to. Like all animals, if they feel unsafe they will stay away. Providing thick foliage will go some of the ways of doing this, but there are a few small steps you can take to make your garden as safe as possible.
- Avoid putting food on the ground – It’s best to put any food on a bird table or raised surface as it keeps the food away from competitors or predators.
- Use squirrel-proof bird tables – These bird feeders are a great way to keep your table bird only
- Hang bird feeders out of the way – Hang any bird feeders out of the reach of other animals by hanging them from a tree or high place
- Deter cats from coming into your garden – Birds will sometimes avoid gardens that they know cats often visit. If you don’t want them around consider installing a cat deterrent
Step four – Enjoy the wildlife
Following these simple steps will invite birds into your garden year-round bringing your garden to life and giving you a space where something is always going on. How have you made your garden bird-friendly? and what have you seen visiting? Let us know on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
Gary works in the Primrose product loading team, writing product descriptions and other copy. With seven years as a professional chef under his belt, he can usually be found experimenting in the kitchen or sat reading a book.