Turn your garden into a wildlife show with the RSPB

PUBLISHED: 16:58 02 December 2010 | UPDATED: 17:12 20 February 2013

Turn your garden into a wildlife show with the RSPB

Turn your garden into a wildlife show with the RSPB

Springwatch in your garden, By Alexis Johnson, RSPB Field Studies Officer

Springwatch in your garden

By Alexis Johnson, RSPB Field Studies Officer

If you watch BBCs Springwatch, you may be wondering if we have any wild and amazing creatures a little closer to home. I can tell you that they arent all just in remote parts of Wales or at Pensthorpe nature reserve in Norfolk. Our gardens right here in Shropshire have the potential to provide us with as much real-life drama and excitement, and here are just a few ideas of what you can do to help things along

Make a pond toads, frogs and damselflies love it here
All wildlife needs water, either for drinking or to spend part of their lives in, so a well-maintained pond will serve many purposes, and it will quickly become a popular fixture in the garden. Put it somewhere sunny, away from trees. Ensure some edges are shallow and sloping to allow animals easy access, and stock your pond with native plants from other garden ponds or garden centres. Insects, amphibians and invertebrates will find your pond surprisingly quickly on their own, and soon you may see pipistrelle bats hunting for insects over your pond at dusk.

Bog garden great for bumble bees, common newts and grass snakes
Bog gardens are great on their own but when they surround a pond, they will attract more wildlife than each habitat on its own. Make the bog garden in the way that you would with a pond using a liner but much shallower and puncture some small holes to allow a bit of the water to drain out. Make it reasonably big otherwise it could dry out too quickly.
There are plenty of beautiful plants that do not do well in open water but thrive in a bog garden, for example, purple loosestrife, marsh marigold and water mint. The marigolds flower in early spring and provide a welcome source of food for bees and other insects. If you are lucky, a grass snake will show up. They are harmless and enjoy the damp conditions of a wetland area where they feed on frogs and toads. As they are cold blooded, they need a place to bask in the sun and cover where they can hide.

Wildlife friendly lawn green woodpeckers and hedgehogs are in
for a feast

Lawns that are weed-free, regularly fertilised, neat and bright green are of little value to most wildlife, while those that are scruffy-looking, with plenty of weeds, support many more species. A wildlife friendly garden will attract birds, insects and invertebrates, and grass flowers are very pretty. Green woodpeckers may search for ants and blackbirds and thrushes will look for worms, slugs and snails. Badgers, foxes and hedgehogs love shorter lawns as it makes it easier to dig for earthworms.

Take it a step further get the children involved
Wouldnt your children love to take centre stage and host their own Springwatch? Let them be Kate Humble or Simon King for the
evening, presenting on all the excitement in your back garden. The neighbourhood stray (a potential predator, perhaps?) wandering in can suddenly turn this wildlife hotspot on its head.

It is easy and fun to create a wildlife garden, and you may soon get to enjoy watching your very own Springwatch from the living room window.

To get more ideas go to www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/wildlifegarden

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