February is a good time to think about your garden wildlife and what you can do to attract it, providing food and shelter.
Most wildlife will still be hibernating, but you may spot early bumblebees or hedgehogs that have emerged early in mild weather. They will have gone without food for months, and will be hungry.
If you want to attract more wildlife to your garden, then there are plenty of ways to go about it. One of the easiest ways is to create habitats for wildlife, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a small garden. For example, you could create dead wood habitats for insects and mammals, support aquatic life by building a pond, which can be done at any time of year, or grow plants for bees.
Here are our February wildlife gardening jobs.
Leave food for hedgehogs
Leave out water, and meat-based dog or cat food for hedgehogs that have come out of hibernation early in mild weather, as they’ll be particularly hungry. Leave the food out from dusk and cover or discard any that’s left first thing in the morning to prevent flies from laying their eggs in it.
Clean out nest boxes
Clean out nest boxes to make way for prospecting birds, who should by now be looking for places to raise their young. It’s never too late to erect a new nest box – a sheltered spot facing north-east is the best option.
Plant a wildlife hedge
Take the last opportunity to buy bare-root plants to create a mixed, native wildlife hedge. Species such as dog rose, guelder rose, hawthorn, hazel and wild plum make fantastic hedges, providing food and shelter for a huge range of species.
Buy crocuses and primroses
Buy pots of flowering crocus and primroses for bumblebees roused early from hibernation.
Avoid turning the compost heap
Even if conditions are mild, avoid turning the compost heap until April. Frogs, small mammals and insects may be hibernating within and any disturbance can threaten their survival.
Don’t forget to feed birds
Leave a variety of protein- and fat-rich foods for birds every day, which they can turn to as and when they need to.