Shrubs and trees for your wildlife garden

Every wildlife garden should try and incorporate a variety of trees, climbers and shrubs.

Not only does this give your garden a three dimensional quality but the varying heights in vegetation structure and cover will attract numerous species of invertebrates, birds and mammals. Most importantly, having an assortment of shrubs and trees will provide berries, nuts and leaves at different times of the year and different foliage and branch height will provide for the needs of different species, and give them a place to nest, shelter and hibernate throughout the year.

Even if you don’t have much room in your garden for big trees or shrubs, a fence can provide an ideal starting point for creating a refuge for wildlife. Try growing plants such as Honeysuckle, Ivy, Hawthorn and Clematis through the links or holes in the fencing or use shrubs such as Buddleia to attract wildlife and provide food and shelter in the garden, all through the year.

Butterfly on purple flower

Our Top 10 Shrubs

1. Blackthorn – One of the first shrubs to flower in spring, this lovely shrub provides emerging insects with a valuable food resource and a great place for birds to nest. It also provides us with Sloe berries to harvest in the autumn!

2. Buddleia – An excellent shrub to have the garden to attract bees, moths and butterflies, a must for any wildlife garden

3. Common Hawthorn – This is a very important shrub to have in the garden if you want to attract wildlife, as it provides shelter for nesting, wonderfully smelling flowers in the spring, which provide nectar for insects and essential food in the form of haws throughout the autumn

4. Dogwood – Great for attracting birds and butterflies into the garden as this shrub provides a glut of flowers spring and berries in the autumn but smell rather unpleasant to us!

5. Elder – Is an important shrub to have in the garden as it provides nectar for moths such as the Dot Moth and butterflies such as Peacocks as well as a mass of berries in the autumn that feed mammals such as Badgers and Dormice

6. Cotoneaster – Produces blossom in the spring that attract bees into the garden and berries in the autumn which attract birds such as Waxings

7. Wild Privit – Provides food and shelter for species of birds such as Wrens and moths such as the Privit Hawk Moth

8. Wild Cherry – Provides food in the shape of juicy cherries, which are eaten by species such as Wood mouse and even Hawfinches and a place for birds to nest and shelter

9. Firethorn – An important nectar resource for insects and its berries in the autumn provide valuable food for birds such as Waxwings and Thrushes

10. Spindle – Nectar-rich and an important food source for insects

Native hedge trees and climbers that provide food and shelter for wildlife


Trees include Oak, Crab, Apple, Hazel, Ash, Rowan, Common Alder, Plane, Elm, Silver Birch, Cherry Laurel, Hornbeam, Beech, Sycamore, Field Maple, Lime, Dogwood, Holly, Wayfaring Tree, Yew, Willow, Horse Chestnut

Climbers include Blackberry, Dog Rose, Briar Rose, Field Rose, Tufted Vetch, Honeysuckle, Ivy, Old Man’s Beard (Clematis), Virginia Creeper, Black Bryony


Written by Emma Fraser
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