Leave The Leaves! Five Ways to Help Garden Wildlife This Autumn
As autumn takes hold in the UK the winds are getting up and temperatures cooling down. Many gardeners use this time of year to clear up the garden, sort the shed and settle down for the more dormant period over winter.
But there are lots of ways you can support wildlife at this time of year, helping creatures prepare for the colder months and be fit for spring.
Here are some tips for making your autumn gardening as wildlife-friendly as possible.
Leave the leaves
It’s tempting to clear away fallen leaves, but they provide shelter for insects and mammals during the winter months. And as leaves decay, they can add valuable organic matter to soil too.
So clear away footpaths to avoid them getting too slippery, but rather than sweep up your leaves, move them to piles around the garden. This will create sanctuary areas, and in future years you’ll be able to use the rotted leaves as mulch for your borders.
Stack your pots
A pile of stacked pots in a sheltered place offers protection to solitary bees and other insects needing to stay dry over winter.
Turn your shed into a hotel
Creatures such as ladybirds and butterflies like to take shelter indoors over winter – they need cool, dry, undisturbed spaces. Let them share your shed until spring if you can. And if you find they’ve retreated to your house, relocate them to the shed via a shoebox. The warmth of central (or other) heating inside will mean they mistakenly think it’s spring so they’ll head into the cold outside and will be unlikely to survive.
Many householders shun ivy as a destructive plant for walls. Yet it is a wonderful winter plant for wildlife, and with its evergreen leaves, provides year round colour in the garden too.
Ivy flowers are in bloom over the autumn and winter months, making them a rare and much needed food supply for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, the berries are a source of food for birds and the foliage acts as a winter blanket for insects. So find a spot for ivy if you can!
Feed the birds
Birds may well be fending for themselves at the start of autumn, as berries are abundant. But when the weather cools and plants die off, they will need all the support they can get. Keeping a constant supply of food and clean water available means they will know to visit for food in the leaner months.
Remember to avoid bread, as it has low nutritional value for the birds. Instead go for fatty foods such as nuts and seeds. You can feed more about our tips for feeding birds from a previous blog.
We hope you’re enjoying the autumn colour! Don’t forget to stay warm and dry with our waterproofs and base layers!