Saving Local Wildlife with your Garden

© Penny Dixie

By Ella Hendrix - Writer, Labrador Lover and Hiker

As the world finally begins to wake up to the importance of our wildlife in keeping ecosystems alive and maintaining the delicate balance of the environment where we live and, ultimately, keeping the human race alive, it can be easy to blame the government for not taking enough measures to stop the destruction of the environment.

Although we still need governments around the world to make big changes, we all have our part to play.

There are many things that can be done to help preserve the environment and promote wildlife in our area - and some of those are things that can be done in our very own gardens.

Make a wildlife lawn

A major part of helping Cumbria’s wildlife is by giving it the space to thrive. We are seeing unprecedented growth around the UK for building construction and miles of wild meadow, where local wildlife exists, being destroyed.

You can help Cumbria’s wildlife by creating a wildlife lawn. Lawn experts at Mowers Online state “wildlife lawns are cultivated specifically to welcome insects such as bees and also birds. They do not just include grass, but they include plants and flowers.”

You can plant seeds of certain plants, which you want to encourage, but one of the best bits about wildlife gardening (other than the fact that you won’t have to weed or cut a wildlife lawn) is that you will have a plethora of wildlife to admire, in a natural habitat.

Incorporate bird boxes or feeders

Encouraging birds is not only great for Cumbria’s wildlife, but it's also fun and interesting to watch. Whether you put out protein-rich foods in the spring, water for birds to drink and play in, seed in winter or a bird box where they can nest, it is always interesting to watch the birds interact with you and each other all year round.

Keep anywhere that you are hoping to attract birds to out of the reach and threat of cats out of fairness to the birds and the cats. Remember that the safer that the birds feel, the more likely they are to stay where they are – or come back to the same place in subsequent years.

Choose your plants carefully

Although it is always better to have plants in your garden, certain plants will attract more wildlife than others. So, by planting a range of these wildlife-attracting plants, you can help to give your wildlife a boot.

Climbers such as ivy, clematis and roses are a great way to attract birds and insects.

Bright coloured flowers provide food for many insects – as well as a nice scent in your garden, lavender is great for attracting bees, buddleia can become a haven for both butterflies and bees, native ivy is a well-loved plant, naturally attracting birds, bees, mammals, hoverflies, butterflies and other useful insects, and moths particularly like honeysuckle and red valerian.

Other great plants to have in the garden for insects include dandelions and bluebells.

Cool, damp area

Using old sticks, rotting logs and rocks to create a log shelter - a place for spiders and beetles to congregate - is also very easy to do. 

You might even find that you’re visited by a hedgehog, if you’re lucky!

By leaving these areas overgrown you never know what kind of insects you will find.

Compost and stay as natural as possible

Try to avoid nasty chemical pesticides as much as possible as these can be dangerous to living things if ingested.

Keep a compost area where you can put any food waste (although avoid cooked food as this can attract vermin like rats). Once the food waste has rotted, it can be used as a natural fertiliser in your garden.

You can also add garden waste to your compost, including grass clippings, dead plants and fallen leaves, as well as food waste such as fruit peel, teabags, coffee filters and vegetable cuttings.

A compost heap will not only give you a great natural fertiliser, but it will also give a home to thousands of insects which are central to the maintenance of our ecosystem.

Get a pond

Even if you don’t have very much room, creating a pond is an excellent way to attract and help to preserve wildlife.

You can help to attract frogs, dragonflies, newts and many different kinds of insect – as well as providing a water source for birds and other wildlife and a place for aquatic plants.

Even if you don’t have much space, you can use an old sink to help to promote this sort of wildlife. Try to keep it topped up with rainwater from a water butt.

As the fight against climate change and the destruction of the world becomes increasingly apparent it is important that we all do our bit to help to preserve nature and its ecosystems.

By many people making some small changes to their gardens, there is a hope that we will begin to see a big difference in the world.