Garden guide

Purple and white flowers

Our gardens have an important role in the fight against climate change. Make your garden wildlife friendly and go peat free. 

Switching to peat free compost is one of the best changes you can make. As well as being important habitats peat bogs act like sponges, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. Digging peat out of wild places to put in compost releases that carbon into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change.

You can also make your garden a safe haven for nature and get even closer to your local wildlife. Here are nine things you can do in your garden to help birds, insects and animals. [Source: National Trust]

1. Let the grass grow

Leave your mower in the shed. Long grass is one of the rarest garden habitats. By letting some or all of your lawn grow you will make space for many plant and insect species, including butterflies and wildflowers. Mowing the lawn only once every four weeks gives ‘short-grass’ plants like daisies and white clover a chance to flower in profusion, boosting nectar production tenfold. 

2. Bird box and feeding

Birds are an important part your garden's ecosystem, creating bird boxes and putting out food will help them thrive. Put your bird box up high in a sheltered area. In spring, provide protein-rich feed, such as fat balls. Seeds are best in the winter. If there are cats nearby place your feeder near a dense bush to provide birds with cover.

3. Grow climbers

Ivy is a very useful plant for wildlife. Both the flowers and seeds are good sources of food and pollen. Plus, it provides year round cover for birds and insects. Clematis and certain varieties of rose are also excellent climbers for wildlife.

4. Build an insect hotel

Leave piles of rocks, twigs and rotting wood in your garden. These will create shelter for all sorts of important insects, such as beetles and spiders.

5. Create a pond

A pond is a real boost for wildlife. It doesn’t have to be huge. You can use a buried bucket or trough. If you do want a big pond, make sure there are stones or branches to help wildlife get in and out. Ponds are best filled with unchlorinated rainwater from a water butt. Waterlilies will help prevent it from becoming stagnant. Avoid locating it in full sun or full shade.

6. Compost

A compost heap is a win-win. Making and using your own compost will naturally enrich your soil. It will also provide a habitat for worms, woodlice and many other insects, including frogs and slow worms. To avoid attracting rats, only add raw, not cooked food.

You’ll find a lot more information about composting on our garden waste pages.

7. Leave a gap in your fence

Don’t lock out hedgehogs and frogs. Make sure your garden fences have some gaps at the bottom. This will allow wildlife to move through from plot-to-plot. It will also help link different habitats together.

8. Grow flowers

Flowers look beautiful and bring colour and scent into your garden. They also provide food for many insects. Grow as many varieties as possible to ensure colour from spring through to autumn. Go for native species, if possible.

9. Have a break from weeding

Learn to relax about weeds. Plants such as nettles, daisies and buttercups are important sources of food for many insects, including butterflies and moths. They flower for a long time, whatever the weather. And so provide food when other sources might be absent.

The RSPB also has some great information on creating a wildlife friendly garden with step-by-step guides and the Royal Horticultural Society also has tips for gardening in a changing climate.

Have a look at our 'activities for kids and teens guide' too for ideas for involving them in nature and helping wildlife from planting wildflowers to building bug hotels and bird boxes.