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RSPB - Giving Nature a Home autumn tips

Giving nature a home in your garden this autumn

Giving Nature a Home is a new campaign from the RSPB to create a million new homes for threatened UK wildlife. Discover how you can help in your garden, below.

The wildlife habitat crisis

A 2013 report, The State of Nature, compiled by 25 nature organizations, showed that 60 per cent of the wildlife species studied have declined over recent decades. That means some of our garden favourites, such as house sparrows and hedgehogs, are in real trouble.

That’s why the RSPB is asking you to make your garden a home for nature as part of its Giving Nature a Home campaign. Whether your garden is big or small, urban or rural, there’s something you can do to give nature a home through autumn and winter.

As the nights draw in and weather turns chilly, our gardens become an important refuge for a wide variety of plants, fungi and animals. From well-known birds to lesser known bugs, garden wildlife needs our help. Here’s the RSPB’s top tips for the coming months.


How you can help in autumn

Clean your pond Clean your pond
Autumn is the best time to clean out your garden pond. While tadpoles should have grown their legs left the pond, and most amphibians will hibernate on land, some hibernate under the water. So, attend to your pond before it gets too cold.

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Trim your lawn Trim your lawn
Leaving a mix of short and long grass will attract a range of species. Short grass provides feeding opportunities for starlings, blackbirds and song thrushes. Long grass provides winter shelter for the insects that birds and other wildlife eat.

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Insect stackCreate an insect stack
Bricks, wood and bamboo canes can be stacked to make insect shelters. Larger piles of logs are perfect for toads or hedgehogs to hibernate in. Alternatively, you could buy a hedgehog or amphibian house from the RSPB’s online shop.

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Nest boxMake a nest box
Nest boxes are a useful winter refuge for garden birds. They should be cleaned, ideally in autumn. Take out any old nesting material and pour boiling water inside, to kill off any parasites. Put the box straight back up - it’s a ready-made winter retreat.

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DaffodilsPlant bulbs
Some insects, such as bees, will wake from their winter slumber in very early spring and will be in need of food. By planting bulbs such as crocus, daffodils and tulips now, you’ll be providing essential flower plants for any early emerging insects.

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How you can help in winter

Delay cutting hedges Delay cutting hedges
In winter, birds struggle to find food. Putting out feeders is a great help, but providing plenty of berries and seeds on trees and hedges is important too. Delay cutting hedges until the end of the winter, so birds can enjoy the buffet right through autumn.

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Plant hedges Plant hedges
If you don’t have hedges, then winter is a good time to put them in. Deciduous hedges are best planted in January to March. Hawthorn, beech or hazel can make a great addition to any garden.

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Make water available Make water available
Water shortages are normally associated with summer, but they can occur in cold winters too, if ponds and bird baths are frozen. Even a small bowl of water to drink can be a real lifeline for your garden wildlife. It helps keep their feather in good condition, too.

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RSPB Giving Nature a Home website To find out more about how you can give nature a home where you live and to tell the RSPB about the actions you’re already taking, visit rspb.org.uk/homes.