Creating A Wildlife Area

Yellow wildflowers

I’ve always loved nature so a big draw for me when we came to move house was to have a reasonable sized garden with lots of ‘green’. We found the house, and the size of garden. At the time of moving it was beautiful but not quite as green as we would have liked. After unpacking one of our top priorities was to make a start on creating an outdoor space that reflected who we are. This included having a dedicated wildlife area that the boys could help to create too.

Gardens take time. You can put down turf and buy fairly mature shrubs for a price, but to get it right takes a great deal of planning and consideration. The aspect is key and, if my A Level biology project taught me anything, so is the soil type.

Our garden faces East. The sun rises at the foot of it in the morning and sets in the front of the house. Fortunately the garden is long enough that we get sunshine (when it appears!) all through the day. This isn’t quite so good for some things though. For example bird boxes must be installed on a north facing wall or fence so that you don’t accidentally bake the hatchlings.

Last summer we set about making a start.

Removing stones using a wheelbarrow

First on the list were heaps of stones. I think I dreamt in stones for a few weeks last year, and I still find the odd one now.

Rockery rocks

When we moved in our garden was beautiful, but full of decorative stones which were not really to our taste. They weren’t entirely young child friendly either, so we decided that they’d have to go. I counted two dozen rockery rocks which were rehomed, along with easily a ton or two of small stones. They were rehomed too. This was across our entire garden but during this process we decided where we would have a designated wildflower area. We chose an existing corner which was mostly covered with stones and had a couple of heathers in it. In a northern spot the sunlight does reach this corner but there is shade too. Perfect. Taking the stones up whilst carefully retaining the heathers took much longer than expected, but finally we felt that the ground could breath again.

Checking the soil

Soil. To help it on its way we turned over the top layer of soil, to about a foot in depth. We broke it up and let it rest. I must confess here that I did not test the soil type. You can get kits to do this, but I wanted to see what took, and leave it almost entirely up to nature to select what grew here. Before long, little green shoots emerged. Some would call them weeds, but that’s what wildflowers are. The dandelions came through first, and as they were growing we added seeds in.

Flower seeds

Wildflower mix. You can get this premixed, or get individual types of seeds, or do a bit of both. We used a wildflower mix, and added forget-me-nots, honesty, poppies, marigolds and cornflowers among a few others.

Fruit tree

Tree. We made an exciting discovery on the other side of the garden during the removal of the stones, that in the middle of an overcrowded border was a small fruit tree. It was carefully removed and repositioned in the centre of the wildflower area where it is flourishing!

Fly on yellow flower

Wildlife. The aim of this corner was partly to let the boys go wild with planting seeds and think about the stages of a plant’s life and why we should plant flowers. It was also intended to attract insects. In particular I had visions of butterflies and bees paying us a visit and it wasn’t long before that became a reality. This was when we realised that this part of the garden was much more important than just planting wildflowers and seeing what happened. This corner was also an area dedicated to the local wildlife. We had already made a start on a bug hotel. I confess we made a fundamental error with this in positioning it too close to the bird table. From an educational point of view seeing a food chain in action is great, but not what we had intended!

Mammal house

Results. With the exception of the bug hotel error, the wildlife area has been a huge success. We have added a small wooden house for shelter for passing creatures along with a shallow water dish. We retained the existing wooden bird table but added hanging feeders too. These have proved to be very popular, especially with the tits. We have a nesting box on one of our fence posts and have kept that. For the second year running we are delighted to have Blue Tits using it. The flowers are growing through very nicely, and we are spotting a wide variety of wildlife not just in this corner but throughout the garden. We have come across some of the biggest worms that I have ever seen!

Bluebells

Backing onto woodland we always anticipated that nature would be very much a part of our garden, but we didn’t realise the extent that it would become a part of our daily routine. The birds are fed and and given fresh water, and we check in on other parts of the wildlife area and our garden in general to see what is growing and what is living there. From time to time flowers pop up in unexpected and sometimes unwanted areas (a dandelion growing into the brickwork for example) but wherever possible nothing is lost. Instead it is carefully moved to the wildlife area or a suitable border and continues its life there.

Caterpillar

Ladybird on leaves

Bee on yellow flower
I am always looking for tips to increase the wild traffic in our garden! What do you do to encourage nature?

Go Wild For Wildlife Cup of Toast

Pin it for later!

 

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to take a look at our tree bee encounter.

N.B. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more information.

2nd May 2018

24 comments

I love this so much and so wish I had your skills – you make it look so easy! This is a fab idea, I shall pinch it when I have grandchildren – thanks lovely xx

Oh thank you! It takes time but is such a fun thing to do, especially with children xx

This sounds wonderful,I have garden envy!!! Love the bug hotel too….despite the positioning probs!! #blogstravaganza

That was a bit of an “oops” moment…! It’s a really pretty area though, we’re very pleased.

This is lovely! Goes to show even small spaces can be made nice. #blogstravaganza

Exactly, you don’t need a huge garden to encourage wildlife.

What a brilliant way to bring some nature to your back yard for your kiddos! I’m sure it’s a perfect storm of educational and healthy getting out in the sun and playing in the dirt! Can’t wait to get the rock landscape out of our yard and start playing like this!
#Blogstravaganza

Thank you. They have so much fun helping to dig and sow seeds!

Your garden looks beautiful. I’ve no idea how to garden so this is very interesting. #blogstravaganza

Thank you. Growing wildflowers really is very straight forward. More so than you might think!

We get a lot of birds in our garden and I love to watch them I would say for birds be consistent in feeding them all year and they will learn which gardens always have food and keep coming back. #blogstravaganza

I completely agree. It’s important to consider different food types for different seasons too.

Sarah - Mud Cakes and wine

We really try and make the garden wildlife friendly and will be doing more and more #Blogstravaganza

It’s lovely to do isn’t it? Your garden looks beautiful! xx

I love that you get so much wildlife! Our garden isn’t huge, but we back off onto a field and have a gate in the back wall to go through. We see so much one there and we’re so lucky to have some resident hedgehogs! I love the bug hotel idea and will definitely be getting one for the girls! Thanks so much fellow #Blogstravaganza host! Xx

How lovely! I haven’t seen a hedgehog in the wild for ages. Building a bug hotel is so much fun, and can absolutely be made to suit the space that you have. Thank you for being a wonderful host as always 🙂 xx

Oh my goodness how sweet is the bug hotel. We are on 5 acres and learning on the go. I wish I had your knowledge and skills but instead am hiring people to teach us as we go. We do get amazing wild life here though some I adore (Wallabies & echidnas, ducks etc) some not so much (snakes & field mice) #blogstravaganza

5 acres, wow! That sounds like a dream (albeit very hard work too I’m sure). I learnt a lot from my Mum when I was younger, but have so much more to learn and am continuously picking up new information as we redesign our garden. Good luck with yours!

Such lovely ideas and it sounds like your garden is enjoyed by all your family. #Blogstravaganza

Thank you. It certainly is 🙂

We also have an area in our garden where we just let grow wild, each year new types of flowers spring up and we even have two native trees now that have taken seed and grown well over twelve foot! The kids say this is their favourite part of the garden, and ours too as it requires minimal work. The brambles and nettles are really the only problem to keep at bay. I didn’t know that about bird boxes being on a North facing wall but it makes perfect sense. Good luck with all the work, it does take up a lot of time doesn’t it! #blogstravaganza

That sounds amazing! My favourite area of the garden when I was a child was relatively wild. It was right next to some fruit trees and we were allowed to plant our own seeds and flowers. One of my sisters planted a conker which grew very nicely but the Horse Chestnut had to be moved after a few years so that it didn’t cause any damage!

Impressive Jo! I’m sure you will all appreciate the effort that has gone into this project and enjoy the benefits as it grows and matures.

I certainly hope so. It is fast becoming our favourite part of the garden xx

Leave a reply


CommentLuv badge