Gardening: 7 DIY ways to attract more wildlife (the good type!)

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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We all know it's beautiful when birds turn up in the garden, well—as it turns out, you can do plenty to attract them with some easy DIY and woodworking tips. 

In a world that seems to be developing into an urban and industrial setting, a lot of us seek out a small patch of nature to call our own. For many people, a tiny scrap of backdoor grass has become a luxury that is their only source of green lawn. The more fortunate ones get to enjoy their own big gardens that boast a beautiful collection of flowers, plants, stepping stones and water features. 

Some tend to go a step further and seize the opportunity of using their garden to attract their very own little ecosystem into their backyard. What could be more idyllic than listening to the chirping of birds and croaking of frogs while enjoying the sunset on your terrace?  

The wonderful news is that you don’t need a magic spell to conjure up a Disney-like world of creatures to make your garden come alive. Although we can’t guarantee that they’ll engage in the occasional song and dance, we can hand out some tips to attract them into your garden!

Keep old structures

Nothing chases birds away faster than the deafening sounds of construction and the sickening smell of fresh paint. Birds (and a host of other creatures) are, instead, attracted to what only time can provide: old ruins. 

Old rustic stone gives off a natural and rich vibe, and usually presents small holes and crevices that can serve as shelter for birds, bees and small reptiles. If your garden has an old stone structure, such as a wall or fence, think twice before removing or repainting it. And don’t believe that your brand-new, modern house will not fit in with this old setting. On the contrary, it could provide your garden with a unique, magical-like setting. 

homify hint: Think green. Plant some ivy along walls, and see how quickly creatures start making it their home.

Wood will encourage biodiversity

A very attractive habitat for wildlife is rotting wood. It may seem strange to us, but a pile of untreated wood can give your garden a delightful rustic look, and also provide adequate shelter and food for a multitude of insects – which, in turn, will attract some birds and other animals who seek out food and nourishment. 

And you can bet that once these birds find a healthy dose of insects in your garden, they’ll start making plans to see if they can build a home there as well!  

Remember that rotting wood can also become a great producer of natural mushrooms. Equally important to remember is that these mushrooms aren't necessarily edible – so keep that in mind if you have little ones running around your garden!

Build a pond

It’s your choice what water fountain you want to install in your garden – however, may we suggest adding a garden pond? This is a fantastic setting for tortoises, frogs and toads. Not only do these animals provide a picturesque setting, but they also play their part in getting rid of insects, thus helping to eliminate pests that can destroy your beautiful plants. 

If you want to add some friends with fins to your pond, make sure you use the appropriate species of fish, and that you don’t add too many (this will prevent the total depletion of the amphibians’ eggs). Ask the informative employee at your pet store / nursery for advice on this. 

For a detailed step-by-step guide on creating your own pond, check out: Boost Your Garden… With A Pond.

Food for the feathered friends

 Garden  by Green & Blue
Green & Blue

Birdball Belle Feeder

Green & Blue

South Africa is a jackpot location when it comes to natural wildlife, especially birds. Species such as the kingfisher, robin, and sunbird frequently show up in gardens, and are generally joined by a host of others. However, should you want to attract them in the first place (and have them stay), dishing out some food might be a good idea – especially in winter, when food becomes very scarce. 

Now, what do birds generally like to eat, besides insects? You can treat them with seeds, pieces of fruit, peanuts, and even small bits of bread. Scattering these on your garden floor is an option, although it tends to look quite messy. Rather include some bird feeders so your new feathered friends can dine in style. Nurseries and pet shops sell a diversity of bird feeders in a multitude of styles and colours, so have fun picking out the ones that will complement your garden space. 

homify hint: Complete your forthcoming bird paradise with a stunning bird bath, not only for their cleaning rituals, but also to ensure clean and fresh drinking water.

Bee friendly

Every animal on earth is important to the ecosystem, not the least of which includes the bee. These fantastic creatures are responsible for pollination of flowers, so they are a real asset to any garden. Then why not encourage their presence among your plants by adding some nectar-rich flowers? 

Choose plants with blue, yellow and purple-violet flowers – bees tend to prefer these colours over others. Consider adding flowers that bloom at different times, ensuring enough pollen and nectar sources for them throughout the year. 

Colourful (indigenous) flower options include agapanthus, aloes, asparagus fern, Cape violets, clivia, euryops daisy, gazania, ribbon bush, lion’s ear, butterfly bush, Cape honeysuckle and vygies.

And you can bet that there where bees roam, butterflies will soon follow, adding some more lively (and colourful) creatures to your garden.

Leave some leaves out

A good (and fast) way to attract vermin to your garden is to place a lot of leaves in a secluded location in your garden (finally a use for those raked-up autumn leaves!). Mother Nature will do her part, and pretty soon earthworms, maggots and beetles will flock to your garden. These creatures, of course, are excellent food sources for birds and small mammals, like mice. 

Damp corners (other than your pond) will also draw frogs and toads, which in turn will fight other pests. 

homify hint: Resist the temptation to make everything perfect. Nature will take its course and decide which creatures and animals will choose your garden as their home. Just do your part to ensure a safe and healthy world for your new ecosystem.

Home sweet home

Food is one attractive element for your new collection of garden birds, but what about housing? Interior Landscape Designers Muda Home Design has some attractive options that you’ll want to consider for your new flock of friends. 

A safe nesting place may encourage birds to return to your garden year after year, continuing to fill your backyard with beauty and harmony. Just be sure to know which South African birds are likely to show up in your garden (big or small), and install adequate housing options. 

Know that certain birds (like robins) like to nest in dark and secluded areas, so a hidden tree branch might be a better option for them than, say, an exposed garden wall. 

homify hint: Make sure that all your birds’ houses have thick walls for protection, adequate holes for ventilation and drainage, as well as roofs for protection against the elements.

Do you have wildlife visiting your garden? What have you done to accommodate them? Share with us, below...
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