Guest post by James Harper
An increasing number of people now choose to plan their gardens in such a way that they attract birds and other wildlife. If you plan to make your garden a sanctuary for local wildlife, the first thing that you need to do is to check the acidity levels in the soil to determine what you can plant. You will also need to map out your garden in zones to provide the kind of atmosphere that attracts local wildlife.
Start by clearing the garden and then mapping it out into specific areas. If you want to attract wildlife you will need to include room for water, both close to the ground and perhaps higher up in the trees and on a bird table. Add some hanging bird feeders as these do tend to attract birds. You should include areas for fruit and vegetables as well as flowers and shrubs in your garden. Some species do better in one type of soil than in another. You need to take samples from around the garden as soil properties and levels of acidity may vary from one area of the garden to another. Take the time to establish where the sun and shade falls naturally in your garden as this will determine what you can successfully grow in those areas – tomatoes for instance need an area where there is plenty of light and warmth. Once you have mapped out the various areas it’s time to think about which plants and shrubs are likely to thrive in your area.
See What’s Growing Locally
Take a look around local parks and woodlands as this should give you an idea of the type of plants that are natural to your area. Daffodils and bluebells tend to grow virtually anywhere and the bright colours are attractive to wildlife. You should try to grow some fruit; strawberries and perhaps an apple or pear tree tend to do well in most areas where you get a good mix of sun and shade. If you plan on having a lawn area, make sure that the turf is laid before you start adding plants and shrubs.
Organic is Best
If you want a garden that attracts wildlife on a continuing basis then natural growing methods are best. Chemical products and sprays not only detract from the natural smells that attract wildlife to your garden, they can be positively harmful. Get some books from your local library as these will give you an idea of what methods you can use to encourage plants and shrubs to flourish in the soil of your garden. Many plants and shrubs do well with regular pruning and watering but otherwise little else. Don’t use chemical fertilisers to encourage plant growth as these can be harmful to the insects that you actually need in your garden. Bees are essential pollinators and if you want your garden to thrive, you need to make it safe for these insects. If you are concerned that your garden needs treating to rid it of some natural pests, it’s best to do this before you start laying out your space.