Even the smallest gardens, balconies and other plots can be a haven for wildlife.
One of the best ways to help is to create wildlife homes for the various creatures that visit the garden. It's also a fun chance to get creative, whether it's designing insect hotels or wildlife-friendly planting schemes.
While some wildlife is easy to spot – for example birds and insects – others, like hedgehogs are more secretive. If you think one might be visiting your garden, you could try creating this hedgehog footprint tunnel to record their footprints.
For more ways to help wildlife or even create a garden dedicated to wildlife, check out these essential features of a wildlife garden.
Discover some of the best wildlife homes to make, below.
Bee hotels consist of open-fronted shelters packed with hollow stems. They attract solitary bees that lay their eggs in the hollow stems, which then emerge as adults in spring. Follow the advice in this video on how to make a basic bee hotel, or go for something different with one of these more unique bee hotels.
Insect hotels will appeal to a broader range of insects, providing hollow stems for solitary bees, as well as plenty of nooks and crannies for other invertebrates. It's a great way to put items lying spare in the garden, like old tiles and bricks, to good use. Find out how to create this insect hotel.
Over the winter months, female and juvenile frogs seek out damp areas to shelter in over winter. Safe refuges can be created for them using old leaves and grass clippings to create a hibernaculum. Find out how to create a hibernaculum for frogs.
This lacewing home is one of the simplest wildlife homes you can create. A piece of rolled cardboard held in place by being pushed into an open-ended bottle is all it takes. This can then be hung from a tree in the garden. You could also hit two birds with one stone by making this ladybird and lacewing lair.
Tit boxes, that is, bird boxes that have a small nesting hole on the front, cater to small garden birds like blue tits, great tits and sparrows. Discover the different tit boxes you can create for garden birds.
Different birds have different nesting requirements. In the UK swifts are summer residents, flying from sub-Saharan Africa to breed. You can help these chattery birds by creating swift nest boxes.
House martin box
Like swifts, house martins are summer residents in the UK, where they like to nest under sheltered house eaves. They create these by packing mud together, but in dry summer this can be scarce. This papier-mâché house martin box will give them a helping hand.
Winter toad hide
Like frogs, toads will benefit from a damp, sheltered spot to take refuge in over winter. These spots could be as simple as partially sunken pots filled with autumn leaves, to more bespoke winter toad hides.
Bumblebees create their nests in the ground, often in the old burrows of mammals like voles and mice. These habitats can be recreated a number of ways, for example this simple bumblebee pot, to a more elaborate nester made with bricks and tiles.
Deadwood habitats cater to lots of invertebrates, like centipedes and woodlice, which in turn attracts predators like hedgehogs and birds. They're simple to create and can be become a design feature in the garden. Check out these dead wood habitats to create. For stag beetles, consider this stumpery.
Materials to save and use for wildlife homes
- Twiggy prunings
- Grass clippings
- Autumn leaves
- Pet hair
- Hay from ornamental grasses