Wildlife Gardening Tips

Small gardens

A small space is not a barrier to gardening for wildlife; small, thoughtful changes can have a real impact when attracting wild creatures.

Remember that your space is three dimensional, so make imaginative use of walls, roofs and other structures.

Even the smallest of ponds are valuable - old sinks and buckets can teem with wildlife.

Plant a window box or container with butterfly-friendly nectar plants such as lavender or marjoram.

Make a small gravel garden planted with nectar-providing perennials such as members of the scabious family, or plant in spaces in a paved area.

The Dream Garden

Wildlife Gardening

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Go wild for worms

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Go wild for worms booklet

Gardening for Wildlife

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Wildlife needs four things to thrive in your garden: food, water, shelter and a place to breed. By providing some, if not all of these things, you will bring your garden to life. Here are some ideas to get you started and help you make a difference for wildlife, whatever the size of your garden.

Garden illustration by Anna Sutton

Homes for wildlife

A pile of logs in a shady corner, or standing dead wood, will feed beetle larvae and shelter many other animals including frogs, toads and slow-worms. The rare stag beetle needs dead wood to breed in. Hedgehogs often hibernate in wood piles, so if you're having a bonfire, check for sleeping hedgehogs first. 

Spiders and solitary bees like nooks and crannies, and rockeries will shelter many small creatures. Hollow stems left over the winter provide homes for insect larvae and pupae. 

Climbing plants on fences and walls make nesting and roosting sites for birds, and a haven for insects and small animals. Choose plants like honeysuckle which have nectar-rich flowers followed by fruit and try to include some evergreens too; ivy is especially valuable.

Garden birds

Birds are some of the most popular garden visitors. By providing food, water and shelter you can attract many different species to your garden. 

Different species of birds eat different things in different ways. Visit our feeding garden birds page for information on what to feed and when. Providing food not only aids a bird's ability to survive through hard times, but also ensures they are in good condition for the breeding season. 

Providing enough nesting sites for various garden birds is essential for breeding success. Get advice on building bird boxes and providing nesting sites.

Garden ponds

Ponds support a greater diversity of wildlife than any other garden habitat.

As well as attracting wetland wildlife such as frogs, damselflies and newts, you will also provide a source of fresh water for birds and small mammals.

There is a very wide range of different plants to enjoy in and around the water as well. 

You don't need a big garden to enjoy the benefits of a pond - even a tiny pond made from a bucket or old sink will attract wildlife and provide a refreshing pit stop for birds.

Avoid taking frogspawn from other ponds. Frogs, toads and newts will find your pond and populate it themselves.


Nectar-rich flowers

Attract butterflies and bees to your garden with nectar-rich flowers like verbena, scabious and ice-plant. Go for plants with simple flowers that make it easy for butterflies to get at the nectar. Many cottage garden flowers are suitable. Download our list of bee-friendly plants.

A wildflower meadow makes a wonderful alternative to plain grass on your lawn and brings vibrant colour to any garden. Alternatively, plant meadow flowers as plugs into your lawn, but be prepared to alter your mowing pattern to allow the flowers to grow. Generally, cowslip, oxeye daisy, meadow crane's-bill, yellow-rattle, selfheal and meadow buttercup do well.

Trees, shrubs and hedges

Favour native trees but remember other species can be good for wildlife too.

Trees: alder, ash, aspen, beech, birch, wild cherry, crab apple, field maple, hazel, holly, juniper, oak, Scots pine, rowan, yew, whitebeam, willow, wych elm.

Shrubs: alder buckthorn, blackthorn, dog-rose, dogwood, elder, guelder-rose, hawthorn, spindle

Hedges provide living space and food for all sorts of wildlife as well as privacy and security for you. Good native choices include hawthorn, blackthorn, wild rose, holly, hazel and elder. In addition, berberis and pyracantha produce lots of berries for the birds.


Composting provides a fantastic means of converting your kitchen and garden waste into a free, environmentally-friendly source of organic matter which can be used throughout the garden.

Making your own compost can be tricky but we've put together a guide packed with tips and answers to all your frequently asked questions to help you make rich, crumbly compost. 


Dig a pond

Dig a pond

Ponds support a greater diversity of wildlife than any other garden habitat. Find out how to create your own pond, whatever the size of your garden.

How to make an insect hotel

Build an insect hotel

Build an insect hotel to help give solitary bees a place to make their nest. Download our activity sheet to find out how.


Help the bees

Bee by Gilliane Sills

Bumblebees and honey bees are declining in the UK, endangering the food chains that depend on them. We can all help reverse this trend.

Find out how