7 Ways To Make Your Garden A Paradise For Wildlife

Guest post by Ricky Peterson

One of the joys of having a garden in summer is being able to observe wildlife close up. Whether you’re a bird lover or a fan of butterflies, we can all enjoy watching our feathered, furry and many-legged friends in our own back yard. But how can we attract them to our garden?

bee on flower wikicommons images

The key to making your garden attractive to wildlife is creating a comfortable habitat for them. Here are a few tips to do just that:

Home, tweet home

We all need somewhere to hang our hat, and animals and insects are no different. Set up a bird house in the spring, and you might just be rewarded with a family settling down for the summer. But birds aren’t the only ones who need somewhere to stay – bee houses are also available now, which is great news for our declining bee population.

Also, for an incredibly easy to set up and inexpensive shelter for a range of wildlife, simply lay some logs in a corner of your yard – and don’t bother tidying up fallen leaves. This will provide a home for lots of insects, which could help to eat pests as well as providing a tasty treat for birds. Also, mammals can use the leaf cover to hide food during the winter.

Food, glorious food

Speaking of tasty treats, you can help further on that front. There are lots of mixes of birdseed available, but if you’d like to try to attract a certain type of bird or other animal, try the following.

  • Mealworms – house sparrow and shrews
  • Peanuts – great spotted woodpecker and badgers
  • Fat balls – blue tit and great tit
  • Nyger seed – siskin and goldfinch
  • Sunflower hearts – bullfinch
  • Dog food – hedgehog
  • Root vegetables – deer


Think carefully about how suitable your garden is for wildlife before you try to attract animals there – are your neighbours as keen as you? Will there be busy roads that could cause danger?

Scrub up well

Ponds and birdbaths are a lifeline for many animals. As well as the fish who might live in your pond, birds can drink the water and use it to bathe, and of course frogs and toads will love the environment.

Blooming lovely

If you want to help the bee and butterfly population to thrive, it’s vital to have both early- and late-flowering plants so that our winged compatriots have plenty to feed on throughout the season. Try some of the following:

  • Spring: primrose, damson and blueberry
  • Summer: chives, dahlia and hardy geranium
  • Autumn: common ivy, sunflower and strawberry tree
  • Winter: clematis, crocus and honeysuckle


Leave the lawn

Fed up of mowing the grass every week? You officially have a valid excuse for not bothering! As well as the wildflowers that may pop up, a long lawn is a great haven for lots of wildlife. Insects will love it in the summer, and it may come in useful over winter for hibernating mammals.

Of course, you don’t need to let nature take over completely
even just a small patch will make a difference

Toxic love

Chemicals are not the friend of wildlife – as well as killing off the pests, they can harm or even kill the predator. If you’ve used chemicals in your garden but want to cut back, have patience. If your garden is varied enough, the predators should keep the pests in check, but you need to allow time for the ladybirds to return before you go spraying those aphids (and killing off the ladybirds, too).

Live and let live

Most importantly, show the wildlife in your garden respect – even though you might not love the beetles, they have a part to play in its ecosystem. Remember, too, to treat the wildlife as wildlife, and try to limit human interaction with animals – becoming dependent on you could be dangerous for them.

Enjoy creating your own wildlife paradise!


About Ricky Peterson

Hi there! My name is Ricky, I write for Swallow Aquatics. I am a nature lover and I like to spend as much time as possible in my garden. I don’t grow as much veg as I would like, but I am lucky enough to have a wealth of birds and insects come visit!

You can visit Swallow Aquatics here. We specialise in pond supplies and accessories, which are ideal if you want to build a pond in your garden (another great way to attract more wildlife!).


Creating a Wildlife- and Eco-friendly Backyard

Each spring at Frogs Are Green, we try to encourage people to create backyards (or gardens, if you’re English) that are friendly to wildlife and the environment, water-wise, and easy to maintain without using herbicides and pesticides.

Imitate Nature

It is possible to create a wildlife friendly garden without using pesticides and herbicides, but you’ll need to mimic nature a bit and do some detective work to find out what types of plants and flowers flourish in your area. Sometimes you don’t even need to plant these natives—they may migrate to your backyard, and if you like them, you can find a place for them. This happened with me—a native fern migrated over to my yard and it is quite beautiful. Over the years, the ferns have spread and make a nice ground cover. That doesn’t mean you need to restrict yourself to native plants. My New Guinea impatiens obviously are not native to New Jersey, but I definitely try to fit in a number of low-maintenance native plants.

In my first years of gardening, I had to water my backyard every day with a hose to keep it alive. Now with a backyard filled with lots of native plants, I only water the potted plants.

Survival of the Fittest

After several years, I’ve realized that I can’t plant hostas—they’re like candy to slugs. Rather than spend money and effort, and possibly introduce toxins to the soil, to get rid of the slugs, I now keep the hostas in pots, above the ground, and then periodically lift the pots to check for any slugs. (Yes, I tried the tuna can full of beer method to get rid of slugs, but they didn’t fall for that trick.)

Since I don’t have much sun in my urban backyard, I don’t plant sun-loving annuals anymore. These flowers didn’t flourish and so seemed to attract disease and bugs. Have you tried some flowers that didn’t quite make it, or if they did, required a lot of watering or pesticides to maintain them? You may have found that other plants just seem to do great year after year without much attention. In my garden, potted geraniums seem to do well, lasting all the way through until frost, even without a lot of sun or attention. Even though they’re not the most exotic flowers, I have lots of them in interesting colors.

Courtesy of Sierra Club (New York)


I put out seed for the birds, although around this time of year in late spring, I start to cut down on bird seed. I put out water for them in a bird bath as well, and I sometimes also notice bees dipping into the bird bath. Because I don’t use herbicides or pesticides, I am not unintentionally killing off good insects—bees, lady bugs, etc. or potentially harming other animals like songbirds.

Build a Frog Pond

We don’t have any amphibians in my city (that I know of), but if you have amphibians in your area, put out a toad abode to keep these local insect-eating amphibians happy.

It’s also possible to create a frog pond relatively easily without a huge expense or effort. My sister put in a frog pond by her house in Connecticut, and on one summer day, she counted eighteen frogs enjoying her pond, including one frog who jumped up and sat right beside her on the garden bench. Here’s how she did it:

She dug out a base that was 4 feet by 7 feet, about 2 feet deep. On each corner, she created a shelf, 1 foot deep, for aquatic plants.

She bought pond liner from a garden center, a piece larger than the pond (so it was 12 feet long by 9 feet wide) and put stones down to hold it in place. She also piled smaller stones in one corner that came just above the water as a ramp for the frogs to get in and out of the pond.

She also added water flowers with leaves and lily pads. These plants act as filters for the pond (and, of course, our froggy friends like to sit on them).

She put in a pump to circulate the water (with an outdoor extension cord buried in ground to house).

She notes that the pond should be cleaned out every year. Take out the water, but be careful if there are frogs eggs in the pond. Put the eggs in a clean bowl with pond water before putting back in the pond. Also, she did not add the frogs to the pond—they migrated to her pond from another small pond on her property. Don’t introduce non-native frogs to your pond as they could disrupt the local ecology and introduce disease to native frogs

Please send us your ideas for creating a natural backyard and if you have some pictures, send them along and we’ll add them to our backyard gallery (see the photo gallery in our sidebar to the right).

Here is more information about your having your backyard certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.