Winter is drawing nearer, the nights are getting darker and the creatures in our gardens are preparing themselves for the cold winter ahead. At this time of year many animals will benefit from a little help, so read on for a few ideas on how you can make the winter a little less hostile!
Image via Wikipedia
Keep your bird feeders well topped up, they will be a well needed supplement to any berries left on your trees and shrubs to keep our garden birds fattened up for winter.
Replace the water in your bird bath regularly and check for ice. Try putting a small plastic or rubber ball in there: this can help stop the ice forming so quickly as it bobs around.
Now is a good time to be putting up bird boxes ready for next year – birds are just like us and like to have a good look around potential homes well in advance before deciding whether to move in. If you already have a bird box that was used this year, now is a good time to clean it out ready for next year. If you want to have a go at making a bird box, have a look at our how to video here.
Many species will be starting their hibernation this month if they haven’t already, so it’s a good idea to not do any more tidying in the garden until spring. All those cosy leaves and general garden debris can provide snug places for animals such as hedgehogs, toads and invertebrates to shelter from the harsh winter. You can buy hedgehog hibernation boxes, have a go at making one yourself or just provide a nice big pile of leaves, straw and wood in a quiet and sheltered area of your garden. Even if no hedgehogs hibernate there, it provides material for them to take and use as bedding in their chosen hibernation spot.
Check your bonfires for hedgehogs.
Piles of wood, logs and leaves are perfect hibernation spots for hedgehogs, so always be sure to check underneath your bonfire before lighting it. You can have a good poke around with a torch, whilst looking and listening for the snuffling of any hedgehogs, but better still, completely move all of the materials to another spot to make you sure don’t accidently cook one of our prickly friends.
It’s a good idea to have a clear out of the pond – dead leaves that are left in there quickly decompose resulting in water which is acidic and lacking in oxygen. Move the dead damp leaves to a pile by the side of the pond overnight to allow any creatures which have been inadvertently scooped up to slide back in. You can then move the dead leaves to a quiet corner, where it will provide a habitat for invertebrates, or even a hibernation spot for toads!
Other things to do this month
- Plant trees and shrubs
- You can keep adding to your compost heap, but try not to disturb it too much in case there are any reptiles (such as slow worms) or amphibians (such as toads) resting in there.
- Plant spring bulbs if you haven’t already
- Leave the pruning of ivy until flowering has finished if you can, as it is an important late provider of nectar for insects.