Creating a Wild Life garden
What is a wildlife garden ?
A wildlife garden is an environment friendly garden, which is attractive to various forms of wildlife such as mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects including butterflies and bees.
Wildlife gardening does not have to mean weeds and wilderness. It’s simply about choosing correct plants and managing your garden so that your local wildlife will feel at home.
A wildlife garden will usually contain a variety of habitats that have either been deliberately created by the gardener such as borders, hedges, ponds, compost heaps, log piles or allowed to self-establish by minimizing maintenance and intervention.
Plants form the basis of a wildlife garden. Therefore, select plants carefully and place them correctly.
Relationship between different parts of the garden is vital to attract wildlife.
Benefits of Wildlife Garden
Natural beauty – pleasing to people and animals.
Wildlife garden is alive – active elements of motion, sound and color is present.
Habitat for children – to discover the wonders of nature
Wildlife garden can be used for relaxation and to engage with hobbies.
Multiple uses – food production, medicinal plants.
Mental satisfaction and other health benefits.
Principles of wildlife gardening
A wildlife garden should provide four basic animal needs: Food, water, shelter and breeding places
Watch birds, butterflies, insects in the wild and discover their food preferences
Different species eat different things, in different ways and in different places
Each species has its own food requirements and it may change as the species matures.
Therefore, provide food plants to support both the young and the adults –
Grow plants with mass flowering and fruiting.
Nectar sources for birds and butterflies.
Larval stages of insects (caterpillars) feed on specific plants.
Provide safe food – practice organic gardening principles.
To provide food for birds and squirrels.
One of the Easiest ways to attract them into the garden.
Provide a range of food ie. seeds, nuts, over-ripe fruits, coconut, rice.
Put out food in controlled amounts in specific places.
Placement – close to the house.
Make it difficult for cats to attack
Provide water for drinking, bathing and breeding
A small pond
A bird bath
Animals need places to hide from predators and to escape from extreme weather.
Large evergreen tree with dense foliage provide shelter throughout the year
example: Ficus benjamina, Filicium decipiens
Overlapping tree canopies.
Plants with different heights – trees, shrubs, ground covers, borders.
Dense shrubs / hedges provide shelter.
Compost piles, hollow logs, ponds provide habitats for many creatures.
Hibernating sites for amphibians
Construct a shallow depression (3-4 cm) with access under a paving slab.
Birds need to nest in a place where both adults and nestlings can find food.
Hedges and shrubs; garden arbors, pergolas and archers are good nesting sites.
Garden ponds that are shaded and filled with plants create the perfect breeding ground for frogs.
Amphibians require water for breeding. Eggs and tadpoles of frogs begins life in water.
Creating a wildlife garden
Make a base map of the garden.
Develop the plan and implement.
Provide variety of habitats
Provide as many different habitats as possible to increase the biodiversity of the garden
example: pond, log pile, compost heap, border etc.
Link different habitats with safe corridors
Different areas / habitats of the garden
Borders – Provide habitats for birds, butterflies, other insects and squirrels and hunting grounds for predators seeking insects.
Annual / perennial flower beds – provide nectar for birds and insects.
Habitat trees – trees contain hollows used by fauna for roosting and breeding.
Native plants – native plants are greatly preferable for breeding of insects. However native plants support more insects than exotic plants.
Exotic plants – exotic plants provide best nectar sources.
Compost heap – compost garden and kitchen waste. However countless insects and invertebrates can be found there.
Pond area – Full of life – Primary producers, predators, parasites, herbivores, decomposes etc… Maintain the ecological balance of the pond Place the pond in a sunny spot and not under a tree Some animals spend their whole life in pond while others spend much of their adult life away from water.
A log pile – Place in a shady corner, away from the house but near other habitats Life in dead wood – feeding places for beetle larvae, birds, shelter for many other animals, frogs and worms.
Management of the garden
Natural cycles – Promote natural cycles as much as possible as a basis of management.
Practice selective management in lawn areas.
Pruning trees and shrubs.
Practice pol-larding or Copping.
Dead trees / branches – It may attract cavity-nesting birds, bark beetles, small insects and ants.
Walls – Cover walls of houses with a climber
Try to minimize disturbance and refrain from using insecticides or fungicides which adversely affect the delicately balanced interactions between organisms and their environments. Allowing your garden more autonomy will leave you plenty of time to observe, enjoy, and learn and to share your experience with others from your creation.