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How to Transform Your Garden into a Winter Wildlife Haven

The winter months can be harsh on our gardens, but even harsher on the wildlife that rely on our gardens’ ecosystems. While we’re warm and cosy indoors, why not spare a thought for our furry friends outside in our gardens, and do as much as you can to give them food and shelter over the winter months?

There are plenty of ways that you can both encourage wildlife into your garden and create a safe haven for creatures great and small over the winter months.

Hedgehogs

Once a regular visitor in British gardens, hedgehog populations are unfortunately in decline. However, if you have often spot one of our little spikey friends within your garden, there are things that you can do to make their hibernation months more comfortable for them.

Leaving food that they can help themselves to before they snuggle up for the winter really helps their fat supplies. Meaty flavoured dog and cat food (no fishy flavours), nuts, kitten biscuits and sunflower seeds are firm hedgehog favourites, and remember to leave them a bowl of water to wash it down with. Contrary to popular belief, you should never leave bread or milk out for hedgehogs, as they find these hard to digest.

Did you know that you can also buy purpose built hedgehog pods for them to hideaway and hibernate in? The earlier that you can place these in your garden the better, as they’ll be out hunting for food and items such as leaves to build their nests with during the autumn months, so they need plenty of time to find your pod and prepare for hibernation.

Birds

Birds can find the winter months tough, as natural food can be scarce. Looking after our birdlife is a really easy and rewarding way of inviting wildlife into your garden. If you install a birdbox now, not only will it give our feathered friends a place to shelter during the cold weather, they may well come back to nest next spring, too.

Ready to use feeders, bird boxes, bird seed mixes and fat balls are readily available at any garden centre, so why not stock up now that the weather’s getting colder and invite plenty of colour and birdsong into your garden?

Frogs and Toads

If you can safely keep your pond uncovered, then it’s best to do so. It’s very unlikely that anything other than a very shallow pond will freeze, and an uncovered pond will therefore allow birds and hedgehogs to drink from it. Keeping your pond uncovered will also help frogs and toads before the winter months set in.

Once winter truly hits, frogs, toads and newts tend to overwinter in logs, leaf piles, under stones and plant pots, and within compost heaps. Be very careful not to unearth a frog or toad therefore if you decide to fork over your compost heap during the winter months. Keeping an area of your garden as a ‘natural compost heap’ will help reptile life and insects in winter.

Making your garden a wildlife haven this winter will really help you to make the most out of your outdoor space during the cold months. Wildlife can help to create interest in an otherwise slightly barren space, and it’s really rewarding to know that you’ve helped the world’s smallest of creatures to get by this winter time.