Wildlife Area in your Garden or Residential Area
You can re-create habitats found in nature in your own garden or on the green area in your residents estate, and create a haven for local wildlife, and by doing so you will get to enjoy all the benefits of visiting birds, bees, butterflies etc. It will involve planting native trees, shrubs and plants, native wildflowers, erecting bird tables / boxes, and if you have the room you might consider a pond.
Creating a wildlife garden means working with nature not against it, and by doing so you will attract a wide range of native wildlife including birds (large and small), insects (which will feed the birds), butterflies, frogs, and in larger gardens hedgehogs, larger trees (such as oak). A Wildlife garden requires minimum amount of maintenance.
When you create a natural wildlife garden you eliminate the need to use chemical weed control products, or chemical feeds, you need to let nature take charge of the area, remember ladybirds feed on greenfly, frogs and hedgehogs feast on slugs.
Ask your Garden Centre for NATIVE species, or check the Design by Nature Website who supply native seeds and bulbs. Native species are better for attracting birds and wildlife.
In modern housing developments gardens are generally of a standard size, and in some instances quite small, therefore be aware some species of tree and shrub could have the effect of crowding the garden, making it unsuitable for other domestic and play uses.
However there will be scope for a wildflower patch somewhere in the garden, and possibly a bird-table, and scope to plant some smaller trees.
Select a corner in the garden, and prepare it well to receive, trees, shrubs and flowers. Layer the corner with the taller plants to the back (wall or fence) reducing to smaller flowers to the front (lawn area). You should leave fallen leaves, rotting twigs / branches, moss, stones and ivy on the ground, as this will form a layer on the ground which will support beetles, spiders, and other insect life etc.
In larger gardens you have more space to allocate to some of the larger species of tree, a wild flower / wild grass area, or even a pond.
Trees are generally a good idea – however do not plant them too close to the house, sheds or any party walls – depending on the size of your garden consider Mountain Ash / Rowan (approx. height 10 Mts.), Blackthorn / Sloe or Hazel (approx. height 6 Mts.). Alder (approx. height 20 Mts.), Hawthorn approx. height 15 Mts.)
Many native trees providing a source of nutrition for a wide selection of birdlife (berries), or for some small mammal’s nuts are also a source of food. In addition native trees will be rich in insects on the foliage, attracting a myriad of small birds.
If you have the space consider a wildflower / wild-grass meadow, a spring meadow could have cowslips, ox-eye daisy, and buttercup, and extending into the summer you could have field scabious, or lady’s bedstraw. These types of plants will grow in poor soil, and maintenance is minimal, as it only needs to be cut once per year.
In larger gardens consider a pond (if it is safe to do so), as creating a pond in your garden will provide a safe haven for many types of aquatic creatures, and insects. Frogs will always find a pond, and insects such as water spiders and pond scaters will eventually colonise any wet area. Careful selection of pond plants will ensure that the water is oxygenated, and plants such as water lily will provide shelter for aquatic animals. Some natural wildflowers thrive on the edges of ponds, and will in turn attract insects to the area which will feed the birds and provide some cover for smaller birds.
You can encourage birds to frequent your garden simply by providing some feed during the winter, trees, shrubs and nest-boxes can provide suitable nesting points during the spring / summer month. Thrushes, robins, sparrow, blackbirds, wrens, blue tits, finches will be attracted to the wildlife garden. A bird table (or nesting box) located in a sheltered spot can also attract birds to the garden year round. For more information on birds in the garden check out the Bird Watch Ireland Website .
Residents Green Area / Public Open Space:
There may be more scope here to plant larger trees such as Oak, planting up a flower-bed, or even leaving a section of the green area as a natural wildflower meadow – planting Buttercup, Bluebell, Primrose, Lavender…it could also be the area where dandelion, nettles and daises are left grow naturally. How about a herb garden – planting parsley, sage or thyme.
Room for a Vegetable Patch?
Consider setting aside a small area for growing some vegetables for the kitchen, a relatively small area could provide you with onions, carrots, lettuce etc. for the kitchen. Is there an area in the Residents Green Area for something similar – even a larger community vegetable plot?