Five ways to invite hedgehogs (and other wildlife) into your garden
With the summer holidays in full swing, there is no better time than the present to introduce your children to nature. And where better to do so than in your own back garden? By making some small changes to your outdoor space, you can help to attract all kinds of wildlife species, providing a safe home with shelter and a reliable food source. With the number of hedgehogs in rapid decline, it’s up to us to help save our prickly friends from their plight! Here are five tips for creating a hedgehog-friendly habitat…
1. Consider replacing your fencing
If your garden is closed off by a wall or fence you couldbe stopping wildlife from easily getting in and out. The best solution is to replace your traditional concrete or wooden fencing with hedging instead. You can achievethe same privacy whilst also providing a pathway and habitat for wildlife. If that’s one step too far, then consider creating small holes in wooden fencing to allow for a mini hedgehog highway.
2. Choose the right hedging
For those that do decide to go for a natural barrier, there are lots of hedges on the market so it can be tricky to decide which to choose. Evergreen hedging is highly recommended, as it not only flourishes with a rich, green colour all year round, its berries also act as a food source for wildlife. Hedgehogs will love the safety that hedging provides, making use of the leafy undercover to create a nest, whilst the berries attract birds in the winter months when food is harder to find.
3. Leave things a little on the messy side
If you don’t have much time to devote to gardening then luckily you don’t have to worry about keeping on top of your hedging. Hedgehogs, other small mammals and birds love gardens to be a bit messy and overgrown as this offers nesting opportunities. Leave areas of your garden a bit wild with fallen leaves and twigs. These areas attract invertebrates like slugs and beetles, which hedgehogs like to eat, providing both a shelter and a food source for visiting hogs.
4. Provide food and water
Hedgehogs aren’t particularly fussy eaters so you should be able to find something in your kitchen cupboards that they will like. To encourage them into your garden it’s a good idea to leave bits of food dotted around. Just a few of the things they like to eat include chicken or turkey flavoured cat/dog food in jelly, chopped nuts, boiled eggs and sultanas. You can even buy specialist hedgehog food. Just avoid leaving bread or milk as hedgehogs are actually lactose intolerant. And a small bowl of fresh water will help to keep a hedgehog hydrated. You never know, it might cause other mammals and birds to come into your garden too.
5. Be hedgehog friendly
Simply making small changes can turn your garden into one that’s friendly and safe for wildlife. Not only can nasty chemicals like pesticides or slug pellets damage your plants they can also be poisonous to animals and should only be used as a last resort. Keep drains and water areas enclosed to prevent any nasty accidents and remove netting from the garden that might act as a trap for smaller animals like hedgehogs.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to creating the perfect hedgehog haven. By involving the kids in each stage you’ll be teaching them important lessons about protecting wildlife, whilst providing them a new hobby over the summer months! Don’t forget to keep a pen and notebook by the window so you can note down your variety of visitors!
My thanks to the team at Best4hedging who provided these tips