Our minds may be on the festive season during December, but don’t forget your garden wildlife – all kinds of creatures will appreciate a helping hand this month.
Find out how to make a wildlife-friendly Christmas wreath, using dogwoods and rosehips.
The short day lengths mean that birds need to keep themselves warm throughout the very long nights – and need lots of calories in order to do so. They will appreciate the berries and hips in your garden but will also need extra food from bird feeders. Some animals seek shelter in compost bins and heaps, so avoid turning these during the cooler months.
Here are some key wildlife gardening jobs for December.
Keep bird feeders topped up
Keep bird feeders topped up with fat-rich food such as peanuts, suet products and sunflower hearts. The short day lengths mean that every calorie counts for garden birds – they use huge amounts of energy just to stay warm at night. Discover how to make fat cakes for birds.
Avoid turning compost
Avoid turning your compost bin or heap as it may be sheltering hibernating wildlife such as hedgehogs and other small mammals, as well as reptiles, amphibians and even bumblebees. Wait until April, when disturbance will be minimal.
Make a bee hotel
Make a bee hotel for solitary bees, using an old wooden box filled with logs with holes drilled into them, bamboo canes and the stems of other hollow-stemmed plants such as teasel and sunflower. Hang in the sunniest part of the garden (late morning sun is ideal). Watch our video guide to making a bee hotel.
Keep bird baths topped up
Keep bird baths topped up regularly with water. By bathing, birds are able to regulate oils in their feathers, enabling them to control their temperature more efficiently. Discover how to make a bird bath.
Plant bare-root native shrubs for wildlife
Plant native shrubs such as hawthorn and guelder rose, which will provide flowers for pollinators, berries for birds and leaves for caterpillars (and therefore food for baby birds).