It’s a commonly held belief that there isn’t much that you can do in your garden over the winter. If you’re going to be inside more, however, there’s still a lot that you can enjoy about your garden. As long as you have windows!
One of the best ways that you can enjoy your garden during the winter months is watching the wildlife that visits and lives there. As we try to encourage local ecosystems for the good of the planet, a thriving microcosm of wildlife in your garden can also be enjoyable to engage with.
It’s true that there’s less to see in terms of wildlife over the winter, but that’s not to say that there’s nothing to see. Whether it’s a robin bobbing on a branch or a badger scuttling under a bush, a wildlife-friendly garden always has something to offer.
Once you’ve started to attract local wildlife to your garden, it doesn’t take much to encourage it to stick around. With that in mind, here are 10 ways that you can help to attract wildlife into your garden during the winter months.
1. Get a birdbath
Birds need water all year round, and this can often be challenging when the weather gets cold and it freezes over. By getting a birdbath, you can help the birds and attract them to your garden. As part of your January garden jobs, make sure that the birdbath is regularly topped up with fresh water. Some people put a ball in the water to help to reduce the likelihood of it freezing over.
2. Feeding the birds
In addition to giving them water, another great way to attract and care for birds during the winter is by helping them with food. Getting a bird feeder and keeping it topped up with high protein seeds and fat will help them to keep coming back for more.
3. Plant a hedge
“The best way to make your hedge boundary attractive to wildlife is to plant a mix of varieties. Using native hedging combining blackthorn, guelder rose, dogwood, holly and hazel should provide food and shelter for birds, bees, butterflies, and small mammals.”
4. Include some evergreens
In addition to the visual impact of having evergreen shrubs in your garden, they are also a great way to provide shelter for local wildlife. Evergreens can help to protect animals from wind and rain, keep them warmer, and give them a hiding place from predators.
5. Dead leaves and branches
Instead of getting rid of any dead leaves or branches in your garden, keep them in a pile somewhere quiet and where it is not a fire risk. These can be a great place for small animals to hide, especially hedgehogs who may well stay there over the winter.
You can also make water accessible to birds and small animals by melting a hole in your pond surface if it freezes. This is useful not only for wildlife drinking water but also to enable them to go in and out of the water.
7. Forget the pruning
Enjoy not having to prune your plants over the winter months. Hollow stemmed and herbaceous plants are an excellent place for insects to stay over the cold winter. Try to avoid pruning them until the spring when your visitors are ready to move on.
8. and Avoid dead-heading
Dead-heads can also be an excellent source of seeds for hungry birds over the winter. The stems and leaves of plants can also be a wonderful temporary home for bugs and insects in the cold winter months.
9. Don’t disturb
Small animals and insects can find a wealth of places where they can stay during the winter – whether it is hibernation or just for a nap. Try to avoid disturbing them from their peace until the spring when they will be looking to move around.
When it comes to attracting and keeping a wide range of diverse wildlife, you should ensure that your garden is also as diverse as possible. Try to incorporate a range of different plants and environments to help your visitors feel at home and thrive.
Hannah Walters is an avid freelance writer who finds peace in the outdoors of nature