Wildlife Care Tips For A Busy, Happy Garden

Painted lady butterfly on oregano flower, yellow flowers behind

This is a particularly important time of year to care for wildlife. The changeable weather can make it difficult for birds, animals and insects to find food, water, shelter and nesting sites.

But don’t worry – there are many ways you can help wildlife in your garden. Here are some ideas from Squires Garden Centre and wildlife charities…

Create A Pond

A pond will diversify your garden ecosystem wonderfully. Find the Wildlife Trusts’ instructions here to dig a big one. Or the RSPB’s small one in a basin can be just as good!

Make sure your pond has lots of weed, so that water creatures can hunt and hide. Ensure that it’s easy for creatures like frogs to get in and out, too. Use stones or built-up earth if it’s not completely sunken into the ground.

Plant Considerately

Grow pollinator-friendly flowers for bees and butterflies. You can make all the difference to pollinators by selecting plants that provide nectar across all four seasons. Some highly bred garden flowers have no nectar at all, or are so multi-petalled that it can’t be accessed. Don’t disappoint your visiting bees!

Here’s a selection of beautiful, nectar-rich flowers you may already have in your garden:

  • Early flowers such as crocus and winter aconite
  • Herbs, eg oregano and sage
  • Lavender, lungwort (pulmonaria), wallflowers, heather and many more
  • Shrubs such as cotoneaster and hydrangea
  • Trees such as cherry and apple
  • Climbers such as ivy and honeysuckle

Hog The Limelight

Leave fresh water out for hedgehogs – not milk. Create a wild area in a section of your garden where they can nest and snuffle for insects. It’s great to encourage them as they eat so many garden pests.

Make sure there is a gap in your fence or wall so that hedgehogs can roam between gardens. Why not make it a neighbourhood project and create a hedgehog highway?

You can even buy a hedgehog house. This will help hedgehogs who are prone to waking from hibernation early in mild weather.

Supply Fresh Drinking Water

Be sure to keep bird baths clean for drinking and bathing. Position them away from feeders to avoid spills, and clean regularly to stop water becoming stagnant.

As mentioned above, leave a dish at ground level for hedgehogs, too.

Later in the summer, you could put out a bee waterer – make one with flat stones or marbles in a half-filled shallow dish of water. But never add sugar or honey as this has a number of detrimental effects.

Something For Every Visitor

Leave out food for birds. Provide a variety of seeds, nuts, grains, fruits and fats to satisfy the needs of a range of bird species. Robins in particular love dried mealworms, so it’s worth the yuck factor to see them up close.

Create log piles for insects and beetles. Building a log pile benefits wildlife and attracts insects to your garden.

Any garden, however small, can be made into a nature reserve, helping local wildlife and giving you the opportunity of viewing these beautiful creatures up close, says Sarah Squire, Chairman of Squire’s Garden Centres. “A pond, lawn, hedge, trees, shrubs and native flowers will all help attract wildlife into your garden.

Set Up Some Accommodation

February is also the start of the breeding season for wild birds. National Nestbox Week aims to encourage everyone to put up more nestboxes in their local area.

The more boxes you have, the greater the chance of birds nesting. Provide enough space between them though, as birds are territorial,” comments Rupert Sleight, Assistant Centre Manager at Squire’s Badshot Lea.

Squire’s Garden Centres have 15% off all wildlife food, shelters and accessories up to March 7, 2021. Buy online for local delivery (use code WILD15) or shop instore with strict social distancing measures.


Sarah Proctor

I've worked on a variety of regional newspapers and national magazines. My Weekly and Your Best Ever Christmas are fantastic, warm-hearted brands with an amazing, talented team. I'm a sub-editor and particularly love working on cookery, fiction and advice pages - I feel I should know all the secrets of eternal life, health and happiness by now, but hey, we all need that regular reminder!