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9 Things you can do to encourage wildlife into the garden this winter

Green fingered Britons are being given tips on how to encourage wildlife into their gardens as we approach the colder months.

They suggest holding back on some gardening jobs, like cutting hedges, clearing ivy and removing dry plant stems as all can provide refuge or food for wildlife. Other recommendations include leaving out food, providing a shallow dish of water and making a bug hotel. Chris Bonnett from GardeningExpress.co.uk said: “The colder months can be tough for the insects, birds and wildlife visiting our gardens, but there’s lots we can do to make it easier for them. “Simple things like not cutting hedges, and piling leaves into a corner create natural habitats which will provide shelter and warmth.

Gardening tips for Winter

“Remember to leave out food and water. Food can be sparse during the colder months so anything us gardeners can do to help is certainly worth doing.” Here are the top tips from Gardening Express for attracting wildlife into your garden:

  1. Avoid cutting hedges

If your garden hedge needs a trim, leave it until the end of winter. Hedges are a good habitat for nesting wildlife and the berries can be eaten by birds and other animals.

Gardening for wildlife

  1. Leave ivy growing

If you have ivy growing along walls or fences, leave it there until Spring. The berries are a great source of food and it can create an evergreen cover for insects in your garden when everything else is dying off.

Ivy growing in the Winter

  1. Dry plant stems

Leave these standing in the garden rather than pulling up and throwing away. Insects will crawl into these during the cold weather. When you do cut them down, leave a while for any napping insects to crawl out.

  1. Leave out food

Food isn’t as plentiful for wildlife during autumn and winter. Leave out fat blocks for the birds or dishes of food hedgehogs. Try leaving out grain mixes and nuts for birds, and to help hedgehogs build up their fat reserves in time for winter, put out a shallow dish of water and some meaty flavoured tinned cat or dog food in the evenings.

  1. Make a bug hotel

A bug hotel in a sheltered spot is the perfect winter habitat for insects like ladybirds. Start by piling up some logs then fill in the gaps using some deadwood, this will make it all cosy inside. You can then fill the rest of the bug hotel with materials like straw, hay, bark and leaves.

  1. Provide water

A shallow dish of water should be left at ground level for wildlife needing a drink. This is particularly important when it’s very cold and icy - normal drinking spots may freeze over.

  1. Clean out the pond

Do clear any debris from your garden pond early on and leave a small ball floating on the surface. If it does freeze over, this will allow the air to circulate.

  1. Clearing leaves

If you’re clearing leaves from the lawn or path, move them to a corner of the garden or under hedges so wildlife can crawl into them for shelter.

Winter gardening tips

  1. Put up a bird box

Think about putting a bird box up in the garden. On the really cold nights, it may get a few feathered visitors.

Winter bird box

See more gardening features here.

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