New to wildlife gardening. Let’s start with stag beetles!

Hi, this is my first post. We recently moved into a new house with a nice sized garden and I want to form the garden with wildlife in mind along with my family’s enjoyment. 
I’ve read up a bit and here’s what I’ve done so far.
- I’ve split my veggie patch up into sections and marked these off by burying hardwood logs - mostly poplar I think. I’ve buried about 50 in lines up to their ‘necks’ in the hope that these will be beneficial to stag beetles. I’ve found a few beetle larvae when turning  the soil and I want my garden to be inviting for more!
- various bird boxes nice and high on the sheltered side of the house and a bat box on the sunny side. 
- Bird table and feeders, although i’m Avoiding live food or dried meal worms as that doesn’t sit well with me - I’ve reduced my meat intake and am happy to give suet etc as these are biproducts, but thousands of insects- i’ll let the birds catch their own.

I’m planning:
- I’m removing some conifers in favour of some deciduous trees and am thinking about crab apples, rowan, cherry, pear etc. 
- Plant a hedge of Portuguese laurel and remove fence, I’m hoping this will be good for birds, invertebrates and hedgehogs.
- Make a rock garden and include some wood amongst the rocks to attract invertebrates.
- maybe dig a wildlife pond but I have young children so maybe wait. 
- cut my grass less often.
- put in a bed of flowers for pollinators. 

A question: Does all of this sound fair enough?
Lastly, we’ve only had the most common of birds visit our garden- we’re in a suburban location, not too built up but not the countryside either. I’d love to see a greater variety. Is there anything I can do? Currently i’m Offering black sunflower seeds, niger seed, fat balls and general birdseed.

Any feedback will be appreciated.
Thanks, Joe
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  • Sounds good so far!  As for the birds, patience is the key.  The birds need to find you first, especially if the tenant before you didn't feed them.   So just keep putting food out and providing shelter and the birds will come.
    I wish I was a glow worm
    A glow worm's never glum
    Cos how can you be grumpy
    When the sun shines out your bum!
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,362
    The only one of your excellent list of measures that I would query is the laurel hedge. I would suggest going for a more diverse hedge with some (say) hawthorn, holly, elder and ivy mixed in, to give a longer season of food and variety of shelter and nest sites.

    Water is very important, so if you don't want a pond at the moment, consider something like a lined half barrel filled with water and planted up, as a micro water feature.

    Is there a corner somewhere that you could leave completely alone - the bit behind the shed type of thing? 
    To search for perfection is all very well, but to look for heaven is to live here in hell
  • tessagardenbarmytessagardenbarmy York,North YorkshirePosts: 327
    Sounds  fantastic.  You can have a pond but have some of that steel mesh that builders pour concrete into placed over the top to avoid child danger. Half barrel pond a good alternative.  Build an insect house out of pallets  stacked and stuffed with hollow stems,bits of brick and stone,old pine cones etc.
    Get some teasels in the birds love them. 
  • Good stuff, thanks, the half barrel sounds good. I’ll have a think about adding diversity to the hedge but may plant a few trees instead to provide that long lasting feed. Thanks for the help. Will also see about an area to leave completely alone!
  • Here’s what i’ve Done with the veggie patch. Logs to separate the different crops. I made a path with bark chippings thinking I was being useful for stag beetles and then read they only like hardwood. D’oh!
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 23,648
    Don't worry too much about your bark path - it still provides a good environment for insects, a clean path for you to work from, and it will break down in time, so you can either take another look at it, or simply top it  up  :)
    I'd agree about having a bit of diversity with the hedge instead of just laurel. Laurel often gets a bad press, but it also provides great cover for all sorts of creatures and birds. I have two in the garden, and the birds and hedgehogs tootle about under it regularly. I have a long boundary which has a road outside, and have a mixed border along it with the laurel, buddleia, pyracantha and blackthorn right along the fence in the back garden. The front boundary also has blackthorn and pyracantha, as well as holly and mahonia. All helpful and beneficial, and low maintenance  ;)
    Any container of water is helpful. Before I made my tiny pond here, I simply put out a seed tray with some rocks and gravel at one end - for insects to use as well. The birds all made good use of it. If you use a barrel - bear in mind that you need access for birds and other creatures. That can be difficult as there isn't a lot of room in them, but a little pile of rocks, and/or a piece of timber to proved a ladder, in case anything falls in, is a good idea  :)
    Good quality 'no mess'  birdseed is also better than the general stuff - it contains a lot of wheat/barley which just attracts pigeons, and makes a lot of mess and waste. Sunflower hearts are also better value than the sunflower seeds, andmost birds love them.
    Just an additional note - you say you don't want to use mealworms, but they are really beneficial in spring when birds have fledgelings, and parent birds are a bit knackered  :) 
    And somewhere on the hill
    Inside the past we hear the bells
    Catching only parts of thoughts
    And fragments of ourselves
    Till we begin
    Again


  • Thanks Fairygirl. Yes, my bird feed does just attract pigeons. Food for thought...
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 23,648
    Food for thought...
    Quite so  ;)
    It's a common problem, Joe. The cheaper feeds are bulked out with cheaper filler foods, and you end up with a lot of waste and mess. It's more economical in the long run to buy the better stuff. Online companies have great deals on bulk bags too, so if you have room to store it safely, that's also well worth doing  :)
    And somewhere on the hill
    Inside the past we hear the bells
    Catching only parts of thoughts
    And fragments of ourselves
    Till we begin
    Again


  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,806
    wish i could get stag beetles, but in North Yorkshire i'm too far north :neutral:
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 23,648
    Same here t.hugger. Marvellous things.
    That's life though - we have our own specialised wildlife as well  :)  
    And somewhere on the hill
    Inside the past we hear the bells
    Catching only parts of thoughts
    And fragments of ourselves
    Till we begin
    Again


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