Not only is your garden a haven for family life - allowing you to nurture mind, body and soul - but it can be a haven for wildlife too.
Taking the lives of little creatures into account when creating your garden reaps huge rewards for you, them and the planet.
Provide shelter and food and they will reward you with devouring slugs and snails and enriching your family's life as children learn about the world from their back garden.
Whether you've just moved into a new house where the garden is a blank slate, or you've inherited a veritable jungle, it is possible to create a wildlife haven on your doorstep.
With a little imagination, some know-how and materials found in most gardens there could soon be more bugs and birds taking up residence in your garden.
Here are my top tips.
- Log Piles: Even the neatest, most manicured garden has a utility area next to a shed or by a compost bin that is ideal for the most basic of homes - a pile of logs. Leave these undisturbed and they could become a home for beetles, frogs and maybe hedgehogs. If they look too unsightly, ivy can be trained to grow over the top.
- Bee Homes: These creatures pollinate fruits and flowers so gardeners are keen to attract them. They are also in decline so desperately need our help. One way to do this is to provide a home for them using a flowerpot filled with bamboo canes cut to fit. Straw or moss can be jammed around the canes to ensure a snug fit. Leave it in a sunny position, or hang in a tree by tying string around the pot, for the bees to find.
- Bug Hotels: This one is my favourite and, I'll admit, rather more ambitious than other ideas. However, it is easy to make with a bit of DIY skills. Make a grid using off cuts of wood and fill with rolled up newspapers, fir cones, egg boxes, bricks, twigs and logs stacked both ways with holes drilled in the ends. You can really let your imagination run riot and end up with a wonderful, home-made talking point.
- Bird Boxes: This is obvious but an important one. Different birds need different kinds of homes depending on the size of the entrance hole but all of these can be made, again with some DIY skills and off-cuts of wood or can be bought.
- Hedgehog Hotels: These need a place to rest and to hibernate but it's easy to provide shelter for them. A mound of earth can be heaped into a hill with a wooden box inserted at the base or alternatively there are special hedgehog homes on the market. They will also make homes in log piles.
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