Encouraging Wildlife In An Urban Garden

20th August 2018
wildlife in an urban garden

At the start of the year my garden was very bare. I planted some evergreen and perennial plants last year, which meant there were some plants alive come Spring. But on the whole I started again, moving plants to better locations and adding lots of new additions. I wanted to encourage wildlife and help the bees, so planted flowers and provided places to nest. My efforts worked well and the garden is now constantly buzzing with activity. If you want to know how to attract wildlife to your own garden (no matter the size), I’ve shared what worked for me.

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Leave An Unkempt Area

Who enjoys mowing the lawn? Not me. If you can leave an area of grass untouched, you’ll attract a whole load of mini-beasts to your garden. This could be a pot, or your entire lawn! I’ve created a wild garden in the form of an un-mowed grass area which I created by scattering a mix of grass and wildflower seeds. If you have established grass, planting seeds is a little harder so I recommend checking out Seedballs. Next year I’ll be scattering a load of wildflower Seedballs on this area, to try and grow more flowers there. 

Grow Some Flowers

Flowers attract pollinators which is obviously really important. So this year I’ve grown lots of flowers, either from seed or from small plants I’ve picked up at garden centres. This has attracted so many bees -some I had never seen before- and flying insects. Some flowers have seeded themselves and sprung up in other places, along with wildflowers I presume from seeds dropped by passing birds.

I’m loving the cottage garden vibe and take a few minutes to deadhead any dead flowers each day, which has kept things flowering for months.

No Pesticides

Having pets living in the garden means being very careful about pesticides naturally. But I never use slug pellets or anything toxic, as I know how harmful they can be to wildlife. It can be a real pain, I spent a tenner on a Lupin last year only for it to be decimated by slugs within hours, leaving me with a very expensive stork in a pot. But through trial and error, I’ve found ways to make it work.

Natural slug pellets have been pretty useless. But I’ve found through planting out plants particularly vulnerable to slugs in a raised bed, I’ve avoided any further slug massacres.

I grew roses and dahlias this year, both of which attracted all manor of pests. I managed that through spraying them daily with a water and washing-up liquid mix, which smothers the insects without harming any others or the plant.

Try Not To Kill Things

So I know I just described how I got rid of aphids, but I try not to kill anything in my garden if I can avoid it. My plants have been savaged by caterpillars, but rather than kill them I’ve moved them. The same black fly things covered my buddleia plants, but I left them to it as they were in a different part of the garden. And despite finding spiders of all hideous shapes and sizes, I don’t harm them. Everything has a role in nature, creepy or not. Also, I vastly prefer the outside spiders to their house spider cousins. 

Make A Water Source

My garden is in no way big enough for a pond and I have to be conscious of safety with a little person now tearing around. But water is so important for attracting wildlife and creating a nature garden. I submerged an old plastic tub in a shaded part of the garden, covering the edge with rocks so you can’t tell it’s a plastic tub. This has attracted all manor of bugs, thirsty cats (they have a water fountain but always prefer rain water) and algae.

Provide Food & Nesting

The best bit about considering the bugs and bees in my gardening? Bats! One of my favourite animals and so fun to watch, our garden is now home to several pipistrelle bats. They seem to live in the trees which surround the garden, but we’ve added a bat box in the home they may use it.

Let me know if you’ve got a garden space of any kind and any visiting wildlife.