The colder months can be a difficult time of year for wildlife. Many animals need to put on as much fat as possible in order to hibernate, and birds need an extra helping hand with food so they can survive. Amphibians need a safe place to hibernate underwater. Insects need somewhere to lay their eggs and pupae ready to spring into life with the return of the warmer weather next year. Here are some of the ways we can protect our precious wildlife over the winter.
Build A Pond
Adding a pond is one of the most beneficial things you can do to encourage wildlife in your garden. It provides a place for animals to drink, a place for frogs and other amphibians to breed and live and a sanctuary for native plants to thrive. Since farmland has taken over, our countryside ponds have all but disappeared. So installing one at home is a useful step homeowners can take. If you want to make your garden more eco-friendly and encourage wildlife in then, this is the quickest way to do it. Ponds installed in winter will actually establish the fastest, and so if you’re toying with the idea of putting one in now’s the time to do it! Although they can be started at any time of year and still, do well.
Add Compost Heap
A compost heap should be an essential feature in any garden. It’s good for the environment since it breaks down matter that would have otherwise been sent to landfill. And as a bonus, you can use the compost to fertilise your garden. Another huge benefit of a compost heap is that it helps wildlife. The worms and insects that break down the compost make a tasty meal for hungry birds. Animals like newts can use it to take shelter, and they can make attractive nesting sites for hedgehogs.
Put Up A Greenhouse
A greenhouse is a useful addition to the garden as it allows you to continue growing, even when the weather is cold. But greenhouses can also provide much needed shelter for insects. Not all insects are pests, and many can actually help prevent pests on your crops through biological control. Wooden greenhouses can be a good option, these are the more traditional choice and will blend in well with the rest of your garden.
Hang Bird Feeders
Over the winter when a bird’s natural food supply becomes scarce, they rely on the help of humans to survive. Birds need high energy and high-fat foods during the winter to maintain the fat they need to survive the cold nights. Hanging out bird feeders containing things like nuts and suet balls, or adding a good mixed feed to a bird table will allow you to view the fascinating creatures and also help them to survive. If you establish a feeding routine, the birds will begin to visit you at the same time each day! In very harsh weather you can feed twice a day, although keep an eye on this. Any leftovers should be cleared away for hygiene reasons, or it could attract pests, and cause more harm than good.
Hedgehogs usually hibernate between November and mid-March and need as much help as they can get surviving the harsh winter. You can provide ‘hedgehog homes’ these can be purchased ready-made or you can make your own. Leaving an area of your garden wild can also encourage hedgehogs and give them a place to hibernate. If you know you have a hedgehog visitor in your garden, you can leave out a dish of water and some dog or cat food. This will help them to build up their fat supplies and make them more likely to survive the winter.
Finally, it goes without saying that herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides which kill unwanted plants will also have an adverse effect on the wildlife. Try other methods first, for example pulling out weeds by hand. For pest control, you could try a ‘biological method.' Which is introducing or encouraging a different species of wildlife which naturally eats the pests.