If you’re lucky enough to have a garden – whatever the size and shape – there are many things that you can do to turn your garden into a haven for wildlife. Whether you’ve got a sprawling plot with a pond or just a few window boxes, it all helps to support the local wildlife and gives you and your family the enjoyment of watching birds, bees and butterflies in your garden. Here are some tips to get you started…
Today, I woke up to the dawn chorus. It’s not often that I’m awake that early but the sun was already rising at 5am, giving the sky a golden glow from the horizon. So I slipped on my shoes and stepped out into the garden just in time to hear the first tweets of the day. It soon became a cacophony of birdsong, crow sqwarks and seagull calls – the loudest I’ve ever heard it.
That dawn chorus made me realise just how much I enjoy the sights and sounds of wildlife and there’s no reason why I can’t put in a little more effort to attract birds and bugs into my garden this year. I’m not just doing it for my own enjoyment – putting out feed helps to support the garden bird population in this country and attracting bees means that my apple trees will be pollinated and I’ll have an abundance of flowers in the garden this year.
So what things can you do to attract the birds and the bees? Will it cost a small fortune to set up your garden as a wildlife haven? Of course not! This IS My Thrifty Life, after all! All it takes is a bit of effort now and you’ll reap the rewards all summer, as you attract bugs and birds to your patch.
FEED THE BIRDS
The easiest way to attract birds into your garden is by putting out food for them. You don’t necessarily need a bird table for this – you could simply put out bird seed in a dish in a high-up place or hang fat balls in the trees beside some birdhouses for backyard birds. The main reason to get a bird table is to keep the blue tits and robins at a safe distance away from pets and so that the birds feel safe when they eat in your garden. As you can see, we’ve just cobbled something together from leftover scraps of wood:
Don’t worry if you only have a small balcony or even just window boxes – you can get bird feeders that can be attached to a window. These not only help to support the wildlife in your area, but you can enjoy seeing the birds from the comfort of your sofa or bed – depending on which window you attach the feeder!
Once you start feeding the birds, you should keep it up, as they will come to rely on you as a food source – especially in the winter. You don’t need to spend a lot on bird seed for them. In fact, you can put out kitchen scraps like peas, corn, jacket potatoes, apples, pears and unsalted, uncooked bacon rind.
Trees and bushes provide a lovely safe space for birds to perch when they fly down into your garden. The leaves make them feel protected and they can land on a branch before assessing whether it is safe to approach the bird table. So, if you don’t have any trees or bushes, you could plant a couple nearby to give birds a safe resting spot in your garden.
KEEP YOUR DISTANCE
After a while the birds may well get used to you but, in the early days, it’s a good idea to only watch birds in your garden from a distance. Use a pair of binoculars to spot and identify the species – birdwatching will soon become your new hobby! Once the birds are settled into visiting your garden regularly, they’ll probably be okay with you being in the garden with them. Robins are sometimes called the “gardeners’ friend” because they are less timid than other birds and they may come to sit beside you when you’re working in the garden. And let me tell you, that’s a magical moment!
GIVE THEM A HOME
If you want to encourage birds to loiter for longer than just lunchtime, you could provide a bird house or two. They might decide to move in and hatch their very own family in there! We have got one attached to the fence, and my friend bought me a bird house to match my caravan! I’ll soon be hanging this in the trees.
It’s also a good idea to provide bedding for birds to make it easy for them to make their own nest. Don’t put it into the bird house – instead, provide fluff and lint in a little hanging pod so that the birds can help themselves to bedding for their new home.
ADD SOME WATER
Birds love water – both for drinking and bathing. It’s so lovely to watch a tiny wren flapping their wings in a bird bath, having a great time. So if you can fit in a bird bath you’ll be able to enjoy watching the birds preen themselves too. Alternatively a shallow dish of water is good for drinking. The only thing is that diseases can be transferred between garden birds through their food and drink ares – so feeders should be cleaned out every week and fresh drinking water provided every day.
BUTTERFLIES AND BEES
The best way to attract these into your garden is by planting it up with lots of flowers. Include butterfly-friendly plants in your garden, such as buddleia (which is also known as the butterfly bush, and grows very quickly), lavendar and honeysuckle. Bees will enjoy picking up pollen from all your flowers and will help to pollinate your veggie patch and fruit trees.
But you don’t have to spend a fortune on new plants to attract bugs into your garden. You could simply sprinkle some wild flower seeds around the garden and create a meadow with long grass. There’s no need to keep your garden super-neat when you’re trying to attract wildlife – in fact, a bit of a messy space will probably go down very well with the butterflies, bugs and bees.
Let me know what things you’ve added to your garden to attract more bees, butterflies and birds – I’d love to hear your ideas! Also, please do tell me if you have any success with boosting the wildlife population in your garden this spring 🙂
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