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RSPB - Giving Nature a Home

Homes for wildlife

Nature reserves are an amazing place to see wildlife but we can create our own homes for nature in our gardens with a little effort and care. Discover how, below.


The wildlife housing crisis

When you've made a space for wildlife on your doorstep, seeing robins, sparrows, butterflies, bumblebees and maybe even hedgehogs is a real thrill. Anyone can do it, even with a small patch, and it doesn't have to break the bank either - most wild creatures don't have expensive tastes!

But most importantly of all you will be doing something that will help make a difference for wildlife in the UK. The State of Nature report launched last year by Sir David Attenborough and 25 leading conservation groups revealed that more than half of species in urban areas are in decline.

The RSPB launched its Giving Nature a Home campaign a year ago and since then we have been helping thousands of people give nature a home in their garden with a range of expert advice. Pick up tips and advice below, then discover more on the RSPB website.

How you can help

Frog in a garden pond Make a pond

Water is essential for wildlife, providing a site for feeding, drinking, spawning and bathing. A pond can be anything from a small vessel filled with water (an old-style ceramic sink is perfect) up to a large pond lined with synthetic rubber or fibreglass with different depth levels.


Foxgloves Plant flowers

Garden wildlife depends on plants. Butterflies and bees rely on pollen and nectar from flowers such as lupins, foxgloves and hollyhocks, while seed-rich plants like teasel are invaluable for birds once flowers have faded. Leaves are vital too, supporting moth caterpillars.


TreePlant trees and shrubs

Trees and shrubs make great wildlife habitats, providing shelter, food and nesting sites and those with spring blossom and fruit or berries in the autumn will provide a rich source of food for insects and birds. Try to provide a range of plants with different structures, to cater for as wide a range of wildlife as possible.


Log pile Leave dead wood out

Don't be too hasty to burn or bin all of your dead wood in the garden. Decaying wood supports mosses and lichens, as well providing shady, moist areas for beetles, woodlice and millipedes. Make a woodpile with your logs and branches and let dead trees stand for nesting birds and bats.


Nest box Put up a nest box

One of the best things you can do for hole- and cavity-nesting birds is put up a nestbox. Site your nest box facing between east and north, out of strong direct sunlight. Also, ensure there is a clear flighpath, so small birds such as blue tits and robins avoid predators.


Bird on feeder Feed the birds

If you only have a small space, or a balcony then you'll need to lay on a spread to attract birds. Sunflower seeds or hearts, nyjer seeds and peanuts are a good energy-rich mix, while fat balls are ideal in winter. Porridge oats, mild grated cheese, cooked potatoes and soft fruit are good low-cost options.


Long grass Leave grass to grow

Good news: mowing your lawn less frequently benefits beetles, bees and butterflies. Try leaving areas of long grass or perhaps create a mini-meadow with a path mown through it. When you do cut your lawn avoid using fertiliser or weedkillers and remove cuttings - decreased fertility encourages low-growing meadow flowers.


Bug hotel Build a bug hotel

Building a bug hotel is easy. The insects it attracts will pollinate your plants and provide food for larger creatures such as birds and bats. You can use many things you might otherwise throw away: bamboo canes, stones, bricks, old wooden planks and pine cones, to name just a few.


Hedgehog Give hedgehogs a home

Hedgehogs need shelter and access to get about, so it’s important not to block all entry and exit points in your garden with fences and gates. Create a hedgehog highway by leaving gaps at the bottom of fences or removing a brick from a wall. If you want to go a step further you can provide them with a hogitat!

Buy a hogitat from the RSPB shop


RSPB website If you want tips on the best plants to grow, how to attract frogs and newts, what you can do for bugs and how to make your green space a haven for birds then visit and sign up for a free guide. You can also share your pictures of your own wildlife garden creations and let the community of wildlife gardeners on the site know what you’re up to.