How to Protect Garden Wildlife in Winter
During the winter, garden wildlife is particularly vulnerable. Cold weather means less food, chilly temperatures and fewer places to hide from predators. Some of our bird gifts are perfect for helping garden birds through the winter. But here are a few other tips on how to protect garden wildlife during the coldest months of the year:
Defrost Water Sources
Insects, birds and mammals need clean drinking water. Leave out a bowl of fresh water every day. If you have a pond, defrost it on particularly cold days. Rest a warm pan on the ice to create a drinking hole. Don’t use boiling water or break the ice as this can harm creatures living in your pond.
Avoid Cutting Back Perennials
Your garden may look a little unruly but all of that extra foliage is providing a much needed hiding place for garden wildlife. Avoid cutting back your shrubs for as long as possible. You could even consider adding a few new shrubs to the garden. Because perennials are so hardy they don’t mind being planted during the winter.
Leave out a Regular Source of Food
The birds and mammals who visit you garden come to rely on the food you leave for them. Their usual food sources are scarce and they need lots of energy to maintain their body heat. If you’re in the habit of leaving out food, be sure to continue during the winter, including fatty food options when you can. This is when your garden wildlife needs your help most.
Create Leaf Piles
Gather leaves from your lawn and place them in piles at the borders or corners of your garden. These leaf piles will attract insects. Ground-feeding birds will love to turn over the leaves looking for a tasty snack.
Choose Christmas Traditions Wisely
Many shops now sell “reindeer food”, which children are encouraged to sprinkle on the lawn as a treat for Santa’s helpers on Christmas Eve. But many of these food packs include glitter and foil. These could be damaging to birds and mammals who are liable to eat them along with the other edible ingredients. The RSPCA recommends making your own reindeer food mix – a great Christmas tradition that could help rather than hinder your garden wildlife.
Surviving the British winter is tough for many species of wildlife. By doing a little garden maintenance and providing a helping hand, you can protect your garden wildlife and ensure they make it through to spring.
- Nikki Boxwild