Sometimes you may feel as though you should keep creepy crawlies and straying creatures away from your garden. However, certain animals should be encouraged to venture into your backyard. Bees, which are crucial for pollinating an array of plants and fruiting trees, ladybirds, which feast on aphids are just two examples.
Of course, there are many ways to attract animals to your garden. Whether it’s by adding a water feature, such as a pond or birdbath, or growing a mixture of trees and shrubs for creatures to forage in, you can turn your garden into a haven for wildlife if you choose to do so.
Together with Dobies, retailers of crocus bulbs, we look at which wildlife you should be more welcoming to and why.
Despite the outlook held by some, not all insects are an annoyance. In fact, some of them can protect your plants from infestations of smaller creatures, allowing your garden to flourish for longer.
For example, a problem for many gardeners is infestations of aphids. The small insects which can also be known as the greenfly and blackfly, suck saps from plants and excrete it as honeydew. This sticky substance then falls on the lower leaves of the plant which can be harmful to its growth. Photosynthesis becomes inhibited and the plant becomes deprived of energy. In extreme aphid attacks, the insects can fully smother the plant — causing it to become stunted and weak, which leads it to die.
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It’s possible that you can protect these sorts of attacks if your garden is home to ladybirds, or ladybird beetles. It is the larvae from these bugs that are predators of soft-bodied insects such as aphids. Encourage ladybirds to visit your garden by providing them with a water source. Fill saucers with pebbles and water, this allows the insect to take a drink without falling in and drowning.
Other insects you want to be present in your garden are damsel bugs. These soft-bodies, winged insects will feed on aphids, small caterpillars and other irritating small creatures, which in turn will help your crop thrive!
Butterflies and bees
Natural pollinators that would prove to be great additions to your back-garden area are butterflies and bees. As they are natural pollinators, it means that they help spread your flowers around the garden and encourage growth.
In order to encourage this kind of wildlife into your space, you should plant colourful flowers. Bees in particular are attracted to these plants, as they source their energy from sugar-filled nectar and the pollen provides bees with protein and fat.
If you are looking to bring butterflies and bees to your back garden, you should cluster flowers and plants together. This will encourage more bees to visit at once. Also, try to plant an array of flowers that bloom at different times of year. This should help to encourage your flying friends to come to your garden for a longer period of time.
Keeping slugs and snails at bay
However, there are certainly some creatures that you do not want to arrive in your garden. Slugs and snails for example leave holes in leaves and feast on your fresh green shoots.
You should encourage hedgehogs into your green space if you want to prevent these animals from taking over. They are a gardener’s best friend, as they feed on snail, slugs and other insects. To encourage hedgehogs into the garden, simply leave an assortment of food out for them. This could be anything from minced meat to tinned dog and cat food. Although people think that the creatures enjoy drinking milk, you should steer clear of leaving this out for hedgehogs as it can upset their stomach and lead them to become dehydrated. You can also leave areas of the garden to grow wild with piles of leaves and overgrown grass to encourage hedgehogs to set up camp.
It’s also possible to encourage ducks and chickens to forage around the garden in certain areas. These animals will consume the insects that they find. However, don’t expect your neat rows of fruit and vegetables to stay that way!