Bird nests are some of the most intricate and beautiful structures in nature, often forming an artfully woven tapestry of mosses, grasses and feathers.


You can help foraging birds in spring by growing plants that they like to use to create nests, helping them save energy on travelling long distances in search of the materials they need.

Different species use differing materials to create their nests, for example blackbirds usually opt for a mix of dry grasses, moss, plant stems and mud, whereas a wren will use a larger amount of moss, along with dry grasses and leaves. Related content:

Check out some of the best plants to grow to provide nesting materials for birds.


Mosses can be found in lots of places in the garden, including lawns and guttering, but you can also boost their presence by transplanting them from around the garden to new shady, moist spots. You can also rake moss from the lawn and use it in nesting balls.

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Moss growing in a lawn
Moss growing densely in a lawn

Ornamental grasses

There are lots of ornamental grasses to grow for birds and many will provide seeds for them, too. Try tall grasses like miscanthus, molinia, calamagrostis and cortaderia that birds will feel safer landing on. Deciduous grasses being cut back in spring can be chopped into smaller pieces to create straw.

Ornamental grass Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea Transparent
Tall fronds of molinia grass


Once they've flowered, cardoons will produce fluffy seedheads, which will both provide food for birds and be collected for use in nests. Leave them on until the birds have had their fill.

Cardoon seedheads
Fluffy cardoon seedhead


Lichens are found on a number of mature shrubs and trees. It's worth knowing what they look like and how to spot them, so you don't mistake them for pathogenic fungi. Leave them to grow if spotted – they won't harm your plants.

Lichens growing on tree branches
Lichens growing on tree branches

Wildlife hedges

Wildlife hedges will provide an abundance of nesting material for birds, including twiggy material and leaves, as well as a safe, sheltered place for birds to build their nests. Plants to grow in wildlife hedges include hawthorn, blackthorn and guelder rose.

Hawthorn and elder wildlife hedge
A hawthorn and elder hedge