Winter Proofing your Garden for Wildlife
It’s that time of year again when those chilly days and nights lets us know that winter is fast approaching. As we prepare for this time of the year let us not forget the wildlife that graced our gardens by making them their homes.
How wonderful it is for wildlife to make our gardens a part of their natural habitat but as much as we enjoy having them around as their presence brings our gardens to life with their activities during the warmer months they are depending on us to give them a helping hand during the colder months so they can settle down during those cold days and nights being sheltered from the harsh winter frost.
So let’s ensure their safety by making our gardens cozy getting a jump start on the winter months so when spring and summer arrive they can once again bring much enjoyment with their presence.
Getting a head start on those chilly months
One of the things about the approaching of winter is doing fall clean up but do you know that leaving some of that debris behind or by adding debris as strange as this sounds may help your garden guest to have a place to overwinter?
Cleaning up of your garden can always be done at the end of the winter months, a little clutter is what’s needed to keep wildlife warm during this time of the year.
Where to begin
There is no set rule where to begin but what you want however is to step back and have a look at your garden, from there jot down what must be done as you finish each project check it from your list.
Leaves on garden path walkways and lawns
If there are fallen leaves especially if its a lot that are covering your walkways and lawns rake and remove them because leaves can become slippy when wet and can cause injury. Leaves laying on the lawn will also present other issues so leaf removal from these areas is so important.
Some of the leaves can be placed in your compost pile. Creating leafmould under your shrubs and hedges with some of those leaves will create a cozy home for insects, frogs, small mammals, etc…
What about putting up a birdhouse or two, this is a great idea to help your feathered friends. Ensure that the birdhouse is mounted on a pole to protect them from cats, dogs, and other wildlife. The great part about installing a birdhouse is that your feathered friends will take up residence even during the spring.
Your garden lawn
While we can all agree that our garden lawn looks great when well maintained one thing for sure is leaving your lawn uncut until the end of winter will be beneficial to butterflies as they overwinter as pupae a few inches beneath the soil as the soil is insulated by your garden lawn.
Moths (pupae) will also take advantage of these conditions as they also find shelter in your uncut lawn just beneath the soil’s surface.
Log piles will truly be inviting to frogs during those cold days and nights. If you have a pond place logs in a pile or stacking them in this area will keep frogs safe and warm as they settle down from the winter frost.
Allowing your hedges to remain full during the winter months will provide a home for birds and also provide them with food during this time of the year.
Gather the stems of garden plants in bundles and place them in areas that are hidden and secure from the elements. This sheltered area will house beetles, ladybirds, and small mammals.
Collecting and using stone piles is another great idea to house insects, gather stones, and place them in an area that is not visible. This pile will soon become the home of many garden insects. Allowing leaves to remain in your pond will also be of great help to frogs and fish.
The winter months can be a difficult time for birds to find food. Why not provide a birdfeed and let it hang high above the ground from a tree branch or other structure where birds will be safe from predators. Be careful as you hang the feeder from a high place.
Use the proper equipment like a ladder if need and get help also. Monitor your bird feeder and give this feeder a good cleaning every two weeks.
Apart from birdfeeders don’t deadhead your plants, this may be the right time for you as fall clean up but what you will be doing is shortchanging wildlife. The seeds that are found will provide a food source for birds. Wait until winter has passed then go for it. You may be a little late in your fall clean up but don’t sweat it because this was for a good cause.
Birds still need a water source to sustain them during the winter months, installing a birdbath with a heating system will ensure that birds are getting their share of water.
If you have a pond and the water is frozen why not place a warm pan of water on the ice. What will happen is that as the warm pan makes contact with the ice will melt creating a watering hole for wildlife.
A compost pile
Creating a compost pile is a great way to provide the needed nutrients for plants that will produce healthy crops which will pay of in bigs ways but do you know that another benefit of a compost pile is that these piles will also provide a home for toads and worms during the winter months.
To encourage hedgehogs to overwinter in your garden choose a part of your garden to install logs and leaf piles this will be an offer they just can refuse as they hunker down for the chilly months ahead.
Plants a food source
During springtime why not consider installing plants that produce foods for wildlife, fruit-bearing shrubs and trees once planted early in the year will be established and ready to provide food during those winter months.
Here are the names of just a few plants that will sustain wildlife during wintertime.
1. American Crabapple.
2. Northern Bayberry.
3. American Bittersweet.
5. Siberian Irish.
9. Grey Twig Dogwood.
What we want to touch on here before we give the final word is our ecosystem. Our ecosystem provides homes and food for wildlife, the ecosystem consists of microbes, plants, animals, water, and soil in a community that seeks to function as one as it brings balance.
Though this system is diverse we’re depending on it to help sustain life for example pollinators such as bees will help our food crops to produce foods that will both sustain us along with animals and the rest of wildlife.
By doing our part no matter how small is contributing to the bigger or wider picture, you will be amazed at the big impact that even the smallest of contribution makes. So let’s join hands as we work hand in hand to increase and strengthen this community (the ecosystem) that will sustain life both for us and the many wildlife.
The final word
Let’s do our part by keeping wildlife safe and secure doing those cold winter months. We know that winter can be harsh with its long frosty days and nights which can really be hard on wildlife but with our help, they can survive and get through this time of the year as spring sets in and they return to their natural way of living.