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Gardening For Wildlife
Your garden, or small patch out the front or back , may not seem significant on its own, but collectively these areas can have a major positive impact. Many gardens are being lost to development or to provide parking. It is important to retain even very small gardens. These can be lifelines for wildlife in areas which are very inhospitable. They also help reduce flooding and noise pollution.
If you have a back yard you can:
- Put up bird boxes.
- Allow plants to set seeds to provide winter feeding for birds.
- Ensure bird tables are positioned to keep birds safe from cats and other predators.
- Grow plants and vegetables in containers using peat-free compost. Peat bogs support many rare and threatened plants and animals. Most of Northern Ireland’s bogs have been destroyed.
- Choose plants that will attract wildlife.
- Create a mini pond using a stone trough or enamel sink.
- Create an insect home, encouraging insects such as ladybirds and lacewings which will help to reduce pests such as greenfly.
If you have a small garden you can:
- Compost garden materials and kitchen scraps to reduce household waste going to landfill. Do-it-yourself compost is free, can be excellent quality and provides a home for insects and fungi.
- Plant climbers such as honeysuckle or ivy, which can provide food and cover for birds and insects.
- Water wisely - water is a very precious resource. Collect rainwater in a water butt.
- Plant native trees such as rowan or holly.
- Provide water for birds to drink and bathe in.
- Create a variety of habitats such as mini pond, log or rock pile. These are great for insects and are quick and easy to make.
- Take care not to plant invasive species.
- Avoid using pesticides, herbicides and slug pellets.
If you have a large garden you can:
- Put up bird and bat boxes
- Plant a dense border to provide cover for small mammals.
- Consider leaving part of your lawn uncut for summer. Long grass is beneficial to many species. Better still create a wildflower meadow and attract a host of butterflies.
- Create a pond or water feature for frogs and newts.
- Plant a native species hedge to provide a home and food for for birds and mammals. Remember to check if a species is native to Northern Ireland.
- Delay any major pruning of hedges and tress until late autumn outside the bird nesting season.
- Grow plants that flower in different seasons for a year round supply of food.
- Use organic methods to control pests.
- Source materials for your garden such as wood products responsibly. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council logo which ensures woodlands are managed sustainably.