It’s those unexpected visitors that add an extra (and free!) layer of interest to your garden. Here are a few simple jobs to help garden wildlife in autumn.
- Maximise pollen and nectar supplies with clever planting
- Mulch the soil to benefit small creatures and slow down weeds.
- Aerate the lawn to help soil dwellers
- Plant wildflowers for next spring
- Make a log pile for insects to shelter in
- Don’t be too tidy – leave seedheads and berries for the birds
- Build a compost heap with autumn leaves
- Create a wildlife penthouse on your shed roof
Keep on feeding the bees
When the wind drops and the temperature is mild, it’s not unusual for bees, moths and butterflies to do some last-minute foraging. You can help them by trying to ensure there are a few blooms to supply snacks for hungry pollinators.
Great plants at this time of year are
- Ivy – ivy tends to flower on older wood so don’t be in too much of a hurry to cut it back. The flowers are not at all colourful but bees love them. And of course, they make great Christmas decorations.
- Asters – aka Michaelmas daisies. Colourful and bee-friendly. These are a great addition to any wildlife garden.
- Autumn Hawkbit – looks a bit like a dandelion but is nowhere near as invasive. Find it in Traditional Meadowmat, Meadowmat for Birds and Bees and Woodland Shade Meadowmat.
Mulching the soil
A layer of mulch is a great addition to the autumn garden. It will curb all of those weed seeds that want to germinate at this time of year. It’s also a great habitat for the tiny creatures that benefit our soil and feed wild birds.
For the best value for money – and less plastic packaging – order your woodchip mulch in bulk bags.
Aerate your lawn
Soil aeration is the greenkeepers’ mantra. It opens up the soil structure to allow water to drain away quickly and roots to breath.
But aeration does much more than improve your lawn. It also makes the ground a lot more hospitable for important creatures such as earthworms and soil microbes.
Plant some wildflowers
A lovely dense sward of wildflowers and grasses creates wonderful winter habitat for small creatures. Then in spring, when the world wakes up, the wildflowers supply vital pollen and nectar for our diminishing pollinator populations. Not only that, a wildflower area has a unique kind of beauty unmatched by any other type of planting scheme.
The most reliable way to establish a wildflower area in autumn is to install some Meadowmat wildflower turf. Here’s how.
Make a log pile for insects to shelter in
A log pile needn’t be huge or ugly in order to benefit insects. Why not take a walk in the woods and pick up a few sticks from the woodland floor? That way you know it hasn’t been treated with preservatives. Make sure you seek the landowner’s permission first and leave plenty for the local wildlife.
Stack your sticks and logs in a quiet corner of the garden preferably where it can catch the morning sun. A couple of stakes either side of the stack will prevent it from slipping and sliding all over the place.
Don’t be too tidy
It’s so hard to resist the temptation to chop off all of that dead and dying vegetation as soon as you spot it. But resist it you must.
Low to the ground, spend vegetation makes great frost protection for the plants.
Taller stems lend shape and structure to the winter garden as well as form perches for birds. Some, like the teasel, are a tremendous source of food for birds. And if you can see them from your window they’ll give you hours of entertainment (to say nothing of photo opportunities) on a winter’s day.
Build a compost heap with fallen leaves
This is a fun autumn activity for children. It’s also a lawncare and green roof essential. Fallen leaves block the light from desirable plants. It follows then, that if they’re left on the lawn, or on the green roof, they will kill off areas of planting and you’ll have bare patches by spring.
If you pile the fallen leaves up into a temporary compost container, you’ll be rewarded in a couple of years-time with rich, nutritious leaf mould. To us gardeners, leaf mould is brown gold. It makes great mulch and can be mixed with soil in containers to grow beautiful pot plants.
Composting bags like these are great. They keep the heap tidy and gradually rot away to add to the nutrients in your leaf mould.
Create a wildlife penthouse on your shed roof
Have you ever looked at your shed roof and thought that it might be falling short of it’s potential? Sure, it’s great for keeping your tools dry, but it’s not the most attractive thing to look down on from an upstairs window.
Make more of the space by installing a living green roof. If your shed is really robust and able to cope with the weight, a wildflower roof is just awesome. If you have limited loading capacity or you prefer a more modern-looking green roof, Sedum matting is a better choice for you.
Find out more about green roof construction here https://www.turfonline.co.uk/blog/green-roof-construction/