October 26 is the start of Wild About Gardens Week, where gardeners across the country are encouraged to think about the wildlife we share our outside space with. This year the focus is on hedgehogs, whose numbers have declined by 30% in the last ten years.
Helping hedgehogs will help all wildlife as they require a biodiverse environment – encourage insects and you encourage those that feed on them, such as birds, reptiles and hedgehogs. Here are six easy ways to make your garden more wildlife-friendly.
Make a wildlife pond
All animals need water to thrive and a small wildlife-friendly garden pond can make a huge difference to your garden’s biodiversity. If you don’t have space for a pond, at least consider a small area of clean water, such as a washing up bowl sunk into the ground or even a shallow dish of water on the ground.
Find out how to plan and build a wildlife pond.
Plant a native hedge
Even a small hedge of a couple of metres can benefit local wildlife. Not only will replacing fences with hedging allow hedgehogs access to your garden, it will also be a rich source of food for a huge variety of birds, insects and small mammals. Autumn is the perfect time to buy and plant bare-root hedging.
Find out how to grow a native hedge.
Keep an untidy area
Squares of pristine lawn, decking and paved gardens do nothing for nature. If you want to encourage biodiversity in your garden it is recommended to leave an untidy area – overgrown grass, piles of leaves and logs provide shelter for animals such as amphibians and hedgehogs to hide in, and also encourage more insects – a vital food source for birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
Find out more about how to encourage biodiversity in your garden.
Plant wild flowers
Native flowers are hugely important for wildlife as they flower at the right time of year for our insects. You don’t need a huge amount of space – consider turning an unused front lawn or corner of your garden into a meadow, or plant up a wildflower container or window box if space is limited.
Find out how to create a meadow.
Provide a rocky area
Although we do not have many species of reptiles in the UK, those that we do have play an important role in our ecosystem. You can encourage reptiles by combining rough grass and basking areas, and a rock pile can provide a sheltered space for slow worms and common lizards to hide.
Read our guide to creating a reptile-friendly garden.
Link your garden
Hedgehog Street is a campaign to encourage gardeners to make 13cm by 13cm holes at ground level to allow hedgehogs, and other animals, access to gardens they would ordinarily not be able to visit.
Find out more about what you can do to help hedgehogs in your garden.