A Helping Hand For Garden Wildlife – Autumn

We’re now in the middle of autumn and while the high wildlife activity from the summer months has begun to slow down, there are still lots of things we can all do to make our gardens more wildlife friendly.

Firstly, as tonight is Bonfire Night, ensure to check any woodpiles for hedgehogs and amphibians before lighting your bonfire as these provide excellent hideaways for these animals, where they will feel safe and comfortable. Hedgehogs in particular will be searching for places to hibernate over the winter months and bonfires can be very attractive!

With hedgehogs hibernating over the winter months, a fantastic way to help out is to build a hedgehog house. This is fun for all ages and a great way to get the family working together to help our hibernating hedgehogs. Use your search engine of choice and you can find many detailed instructions on how to build a hedgehog house. Instructions that I found particularly good were on Gardeners’ World. You can make them as fancy or as bog standard as you like and could even consider adding a camera to the box! Search for a bird box camera online and you can get a selection of either wired or wireless cameras that screw to the roof of your hedgehog house and link up to the AV port of your TV. I use a wired camera on my bird box and they are great pieces of kit.

If you can’t build a hedgehog house or don’t fancy building one, then a much easier method is to collate some fallen leaves into a bundle for hedgehogs to use. I have used this technique in the past by piling some leaves in one corner of the garden, rather than composting them, and have seen it work just fine.

As well as hedgehogs, insects will also hibernate through the winter months, providing the opportunity to get building again and create an insect house. These come in different forms and all shapes and sizes. A woodpile can create a nice hibernating habitat as can more complex insect homes, such as ‘bug hotels’ which involve using wooden pallets, sticks, plastics bottles, plastic piping and various other bits and bobs. Have a look online and see what suits you best in terms of size and cost and have a go!

Perhaps you felt that your garden didn’t attract much wildlife this year or you have a new garden that you want to be more wildlife friendly next year? If so, autumn is a brilliant time to start planning your ideal wildlife garden. You can plant any shrubs or small trees you may want in your garden or start creating borders for plants to attract insects next summer. It’s ideal to plant any shrubs or dig out border before we start getting frost, so over the next couple of weeks would be best. After the borders are dug out, you can spend some time researching what types of plants you want and make a plan for next year.

Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have a pond in your garden then it may need a clean out before next year. If you noticed any overgrown plants during the summer then you can trim them back during autumn. There may be excess silt of the bottom of the pond so you can remove this and add it around the edges of the pond or mix it in with your newly dug borders! However, remember to keep some in the bottom of the pond as this will be good for invertebrates in the pond. Similarly, if you remove any plants then leave them by the pond for a while to allow any creatures that may be hiding away to get back to the pond.

That’s all for today’s blog. Keep an eye of for my next winter post and have fun out in your gardens!

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Jonathan Siberry
Ecologist, photographer and all round wildlife lover!!
Jonathan Siberry

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