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Help attracting wildlife

As the title states really, I'd really like some help attracting wildlife back into our garden.

A bit of background, we moved into a new build house in October 2014.  Prior to the houses being built, the site had been disused since around 2008. I suspect that all manner of birds, insects and other creatures had called the area home.

The former buildings were demolished in 2013 and houses have been built since then.  The site is now complete and builders left (finally!!!woohoo!!!) around two to three months ago.

I know that much wildlife will have been frightened away by the building, although we do have a fox resident in the area who hasn't been deterred and still visits regularly.  I've also seen one hedgehog a few weeks ago, but not since then. I see birds flying overhead but they never come into the garden, though I've put food out its never eaten.

I feel guilty for living here whilst many animals' homes were destroyed, and I'd like to be able to attract them back and provide a garden that will meet their needs.  Many of our neighbours have yet to do anything with their gardens, most are just turf, no flowers but lots of children's toys.

When we moved in our garden was just a square patch of soil, nothing else.  We've planted mainly flowering shrubs and have had annuals over summer.  Most of the shrubs are still very small, we tended to buy them as 2 or 3 litre pots and they haven't grown large enough yet to provide much cover.  We had loads of bees this year come for the ceanothus, salvia, lobelia and petunias, and tons of slugs image but nothing in the way of birds, hedgehogs, frogs or anything else.

What can I do to attract wildlife back here?

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  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 27,280

    Hi Jess. You have done everything right. Put up a bird feeding station and they will soon find it. Fix up nesting boxes too. The best thing for attracting wild life is a garden pond. Once thats installed - and it doesn't have to be huge - you will find lots of creatures moving in.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 13,951

    Can a hedgehog get in? small holes in the fences let the wildlife in. You may have to get agreement with neighbours for this.

    A pond is a good place for animals to drink. Make sure it has  sloping sides so that animals can climb out. Some shrubs to give birds cover will help.  I doubt you will have room for an Oak, but a small tree like a Rowan will attract birds for the fruit.

    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,530

    Frogs and toads will find their way if you make a pond but be sure it has a sloping edge or a plank or stone they can use to climb out again.  Both like to come out onto dry or boggy land and toads especially don't spend their life in there but need it for breeding.   Both will eat pests such as slugs.   Don't put fish in the pond as they will eat the spawn.

    Hedgehogs need access so a solid fence or wall will keep them out.  You can cut holes in wire mesh or wooden fences to allow them to get to and fro but your neighbours will have to do the same and also provide safe cover for them to feed and breed and raise their young and hibernate.

    Birds will come if you provide food all year round - peanuts in feeders, fat balls, loose seed for ground feeders and in hanging feeders for the "swingers" such as tits and sparrows.

    Planting flowers that attract insects will also attract birds which will eat aphids and caterpillars for you.

    Have a look at this advice form the RHS on attracting wildlife - https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/conservation-biodiversity/wildlife/encourage-wildlife-to-your-garden

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • We did put a nesting box up but it hasn't been used as yet, although maybe I'm expecting too much, it was only put up early this year.  It's attached to the top of the fence in a corner of the garden.  I thought it might be too out in the open so I've planted a trachelospermum (sp?) to grow up the fence and hopefully provide it with a bit more privacy, but again the plant is only small at the moment and it doesn't seem to grow very fast so might be a while before the box gets any visitors.

    I do think hedgehogs can get in and out as there are gaps under the fences in some areas. 

    I don't think I've enough room for a proper pond, but we do have a large concrete pot that I'm trying to figure out how best to turn into a mini pond.  I'll try to attach a photo.  We filled in the hole at the bottom of it so it's now water tight.  I'm planning on sinking it into the ground a bit as I think its too tall as it stands, then building up some rocks around it so that creates can get into it.  Then I thought I might either plant a couple of plants in it, maybe dwarf water lillies, or add rocks inside and create a bird bath.  OH thinks it will freeze in winter and crack image

  • Here's the pond to be image

    image

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 875

    There have been good suggestions already. A pond is top of the list for attracting wildlife.  In addition to that, native species are generally, though not exclusively, good. It might be good to post some pictures to give readers an idea of what you could achieve in the space available. There was a similar thread only a week or so ago with specific reference to attracting birds and this is what I wrote in answer to that; the same applies to your garden:

     "I garden for birds and have a garden list of well over 100 species. The first question I would ask you,  is what is your garden like already and secondly, what is the wider habitat?  This is an important question because this to a large extent determines what birds you could hope to attract to your garden.  If for example you live near a heathland, by making certain choices of what to grow you could attract heathland species or if you live near a marsh or reedbed, you could for example entice waders or reed warblers, if you see what I mean. Are you on a migration route? There is a really good book:

     https://www.amazon.co.uk/RSPB-Gardening-Wildlife-Complete-Nature-friendly/dp/1408122308/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473622122&sr=8-2&keywords=wildlife+gardening

    that explores these ideas in more detail."

  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 27,280

    Its a little difficult to estimate the size of your pond but to avoid freezing and cracking in Winter all you have to do is float a childs football on the top. As the ice forms the ball keeps an area open. Of course in extremes of cold it might struggle. All you do then is get a kitchen pan and sit it on the ice then pour boiling water into the pan, this soon melts a hole. Don't pour the water directly on to the ice though as there may be creatures underneath.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • Thank you all for your advise so far.

    Redwing, in answer to your questions posed in the other thread, we are located on the outskirts of Hull close to the East Yorkshire countryside.  There's a nature reserve nearby, so in theory there should be plenty of birds and other wildlife around. 

    In terms of our garden, it's the small size you'd expect of a new build.  The developers added 'green spaces' which have large mature trees and areas of low maintenance planting.  I'm not sure what the trees are or whether we are on a migration route.  There were loads of starlings in spring for a few weeks, but they disappeared shortly afterwards.  I've only ever seen starlings and the odd blackbird in the garden, not very often.

    I'll attach some photos of the garden to give you an idea of what's here.  Like I say though, much of the planting is new and the shrubs are still young, so I don't think they provide enough cover.  Is it just a case of waiting?

  • image

    image

    image

    image

    Shrubs we have so far include Hebe, Fatsia, Pieris, Phormium, Falstaff rose, Salvia, Rhododendrons, Ceanothus, Forsythia, Camellia and Sarcococca.

    Any criticisms or suggestions quite welcome!

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 875

    I think you need a tree or two, something that will grow fairly quickly and provide food, shelter and perching/roosting opportunitpies for birds  and to give height. Top of my list would be silver birch. Other possibilities could be Rowan, amelianchar or fruit trees. Also I would be looking to clothe the fences in climbers for example honeysuckle, clematis, pyracantha and single roses. Most shrubs with berries are good. You could also plant herbacious perrennials known to attract pollinating insects. My advice would be to plant some trees this autumn as a first priority.

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