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Brush pile?

OmoriOmori North YorkshirePosts: 1,659
My back garden is all ornamental but the front garden, which is larger than the back, is currently just weeds and grass.  I’d like to start growing veg there, and also use part of it for wildlife.  I’ll be putting in a pond, but is a brush pile a good idea or will it attract rats? The brush pile will be quite large as I have quite a lot of cut branches from multiple tree trimmings.

Also if anyone has a brush pile for wildlife would love to see pics to get an idea?


  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,531
    edited June 2019
    Welcome to the forum, Omori, it's great that you're supporting wildlife.  Rats are also wildlife!  They mainly come into gardens looking for food.  If you feed your pets outdoors, or put food out for hedgehogs, the rats don't know it isn't meant for them.  I've seen one on a birdfeeder which it regularly visited via the tree that it hung from.  

    I have a woodpile in the narrow gap between my garage and the neighbour's fence, and I've never found anything living in it other than invertebrates.  Most of the wood is old fence panels which I break up for kindling in my log-burner, but there are also bits of trees I've had felled, and stumps I've dug out.
  • OmoriOmori North YorkshirePosts: 1,659
    Thanks for your response Josusa, I was concerned about rats eating fruit and vegetable crops if I am also providing them with a nearby cosy den.  I want to strike a balance between caring for wildlife but also my future vegetable/fruit garden. 
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 1,139
    You could always build a dead hedge with it, I made one a couple of years ago to replace a fence along one side of the garden and it swallows up as many branches, twigs, prunings as I can put in it.

    Wrens, robins and blackbirds all nest in it. I often see field mice running along it, but have never seen the rats take any interest in it, as there is no food source and they tend to nest under the sheds etc. Lots of insects in there so its a constant source of attraction to the birds.

    You basically put in some stakes or stout branches every three foot or so then weave some longer branches between them to create a framework, then you can pop whatever brush you have in the middle. Its very dry so doesn't rot like a compost heap.

    You could also make them as a cube rather than a fence. if you want something smaller, and it will stop it becoming a sprawling pile. Mine actually looked quite neat until a big tree came down on it, so I just propped it all up, it still works as well but look a bit more... rustic shall we say.

    and an example of what they look more like before they get crushed by a tree!

  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
     I have various wood piles around the place, under many hedges, as my garden is small and it's un-used space. Mostly logs and branches from my hedges and trees. I hear low crunching from one pile at night which I imagine must be some kind of termite/beetle. Loud enough to hear across the garden. I have a log stack against a hedge. I would love a big to have one against the house or the fences but I think it would be bad for ventilation and encourage damp and hence rot.

    I would gently suggest that treated wood is not that great for wildlife (beetles, fungi etc) or wood burners.
  • OmoriOmori North YorkshirePosts: 1,659
    That looks very neat Jellyfire, I hadn’t thought of doing something like that.  I appreciate the photos, helps me visualise possibilities.  

    Fire it is all untreated wood.  I had just piled it all up earlier this year to be dealt with at a later date 🙄😬 and of course it’s still there all these months later.  I realised it could make a nice area for wildlife as I’d like my front garden to be more “wild”.  I had put out a small dish of wet dog food near it, and the next morning it was gone.  No idea what ate it, wish I had a camera!
  • LG_LG_ SE LondonPosts: 4,046
    I worry about the same - I have a hedgehog house and log pile (as in old stumps etc - not fire wood) next to my compost heap and often think it's a perfect, cosy area for rats too. Other than not putting meat / fish / cooked food etc on the compost heap, I'm not sure what else I can do except cross my fingers!
    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
    - Cicero
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,526
    Omori said:
     I had just piled it all up earlier this year to be dealt with at a later date 🙄😬 and of course it’s still there all these months later.  
    Well if it makes you feel better, Omori, here is my pile of branches and clippings to be ‘dealt with at a later date!’ Its currently nearly 3 years old, about 3m wide and 2.5m high. I have now decided its a wildlife sanctuary. It’s become self-sustaining, every year I pile on new stuff, it grows in height then it settles back down to what it was the year before.

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,531
    edited June 2019
    Fire said:

    I would gently suggest that treated wood is not that great for wildlife (beetles, fungi etc) or wood burners.
    @Fire, I'm assuming your remark about treated wood is directed at me and not the OP.  What would you have me do with the fence panels?  When I bought the house, it already had a wood burning stove in the lounge, and the perimeter fence was old and falling to bits and needed replacing.  Also there were some trees I didn't like, conifers which cast a deep shade over much of the garden, and I had them felled.  Now, I wouldn't have chosen to install a wood-burning stove, but since I have one, and I have logs, and the fence wood makes excellent kindling ......   What is the alternative?  I could leave it where it is, providing shelter for invertebrates, if not food. I suppose it might be toxic to anything that ate it, so do I pay someone to dump it in landfill, where it is just as likely to get eaten by invertebrates?

    Sorry if this sounds huffy, diplomacy is not my strong point.  I wouldn't like you think I'm offended by your gentle suggestion.
  • OmoriOmori North YorkshirePosts: 1,659
    Nollie that is epic!  Yes definitely if anyone asks, it’s a wildlife haven thank you very much! 🧐

    One thought I had is planting a small rambling rose to scramble over? Mine is in full sun so should be happy, and provide more wildlife benefits with an open flowering variety, as well as looking pretty.
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 1,139
    edited June 2019
    @josusa47 I’m sure fire is just offering helpful advice rather than being admonishing. Treated wood (and unseasoned wood for that matter, conifers needs a good 2 years at least ideally) is really not ideal in wood burners for a couple of reasons, firstly it can give out some pretty noxious gases from chemical treatments which won’t do you any favours, plus it will almost certainly shorten the life of your wood burner and chimney liner. You get much more tar out of it than good well seasoned wood, which will corrode both the liner and the stove much more quickly than it would otherwise.

    I usually burn pallets and the like on a bonfire and never in the wood burner myself. Not ideal for the environment either, but as you say, what’s the alternative. Obviously it’s your wood burner and wood to do what you like with but handy to know if you didn’t already 
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