Look after the wildlife in your garden

At this time of year, when most plants are dormant, it’s time to spare a thought for the wildlife outside and how to help and encourage them to liven up our gardens – along with getting them to do a few jobs to help us out!

One obvious way to attract our feathered friends into the garden is to give them something to eat. This can be in the form of berries on shrubs, like Holly and Pyracantha, or by leaving out fat balls and nuts in bird feeders.

It always pays off to encourage birds as they will hunt down pests like slugs and snails along with other creepy crawlies that can damage our plants.

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Conifers make great homes for birds as they like to nest in their dense branches and get protection from the winter weather. Having conifers and other large evergreens in the garden is always a good thought because if birds can live in your garden, rather than just feeding there, they will help bring it to life along with making your life a lot easier.

Other wildlife to look after through the winter include ladybirds and beetles. To help these insects hibernate it is always best to leave areas where plant debris is left to rot down through the winter. Maybe leave a flower bed untouched until spring, or heap up leaves and twigs out of the way in the corner of the garden, making an ideal place for them to spend the winter.

Again it will pay dividends as insects like these help fight the battle against airborne pests, including greenfly and whiteflies, and will help reduce damage on plants such as Viburnums and Roses, and other shrubs.

You can tell because when the leaves are young they become distorted and crinkly, due to the greenflies piercing and sucking on the new leaves causing this distortion.

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Always remember to check heaps of debris which may be ready for burning, as hedgehogs and other animals might have moved in for the winter. Move the heap and leave it for a day or two before lighting, this way it will have scared off any creatures.

If the weather happens to take on a wintry chill these next few weeks, make sure in hard frosts to melt a hole in the ice of any ponds by placing a saucepan with boiling water in to melt a hole. Also make sure there is some source of water for animals and birds to feed off in a little bowl or dish.

Finally I wish everyone a Happoy New Year and I hope that you all enjoyed the festive period and sat back and relaxed, as well as over indulging a bit – I know I did!