Gardens are more important than ever as a home and feeding ground for birds and wildlife - and especially beneficial to our mental health now we are staying safe at home. However, it is easy to focus too much on being neat and tidy when nature actually prefers things to be a bit messier!
Here are few simple tips from our Education Officer, Rachel, to help your garden come alive this Spring:
Encourage native trees, shrubs and flowers: consider letting some ‘weeds’ grow such as herb-Robert (right). If you don’t like them in your flower beds put them in pots and see what insects they attract.
Mow your lawn less often: mowing less and leaving the mowing to later in the season allows common lawn plants to flower, such as self-heal, daisies, buttercups and dandelions. Not only do these add colour and interest, they are a great feeding ground for important insects which in turn are fed on by birds and other animals. You can always mow a pathway or keep one small part of the lawn short to sit in.
Mow higher: the main flowering season is between April and September so if you do mow during this time, mow on a setting that leaves the grass longer, to keep the insects and wild flowers alive.
Create woodpiles, leaf piles, and grass cutting piles: these are fantastic places for animals to feed and hibernate. Find a quiet corner of the garden to put them in. This is particularly helpful if your garden waste collection has been suspended as many local authorities are currently discouraging bonfires.
Keep a wild area: ivy, bramble and nettles are all fantastic food sources for birds and wildlife. Keeping a small area for these plants particularly along boundary edges to provide food all year round.
Create corridors: Make sure that there are a few gaps in your fences - about 5 inches by 5 inches – to allow creatures such as hedgehogs and toads to be able to move freely.
Provide water: Water is essential for all life, so if you haven’t got a pond, put out bird baths or shallow bowls of water (2 inches or less). Keep the bowls fairly clean and make sure the bottom isn’t slippery – you can put stones or gravel in the bottom of a shiny bowl.
For more family activities and things to make to encourage wildlife have a look at the Sussex Wildlife Trust's Activity Sheets.
If you aren't fortunate enough to have a garden, stayed tuned for more High Weald at Home activities including Stargazing and Keeping a Nature Journal.