For many people, autumn may be a time to get gardens in order, ready for the impending winter. However, for the sake of the county’s wildlife, the local conservation charity would like everyone to consider how they can help Essex’s struggling wildlife through the colder months. See some of their top tips of how to make gardens more wildlife-friendly this autumn, helping to create a wilder Essex:
Clear out nest boxes
Once all young birds have fledged, clean your box in boiling soapy water. Once dry, hang it back up for the next occupants.
Add a nest box for birds or bats
Put up a new box or repair any you have, they provide a safe and warm place to shelter in bad weather or roost over winter.
Clean and refill your bird feeders
Regularly wash your feeders in hot soapy water before thoroughly drying and refilling with a high-calorie winter bird food.
Build a log pile
Turn any cut plant material into a log pile, with holes and crevices for insects and small mammals.
Make a leaf pile
Leave a pile of leaves in a quiet corner to create a welcome home for insects or small mammals.
Give hedgehogs a home
Providing safe places for hedgehogs means you’ll be more likely to see these prickly pest controllers in your garden.
Feed the hedgehogs
Help Essex’s beloved mammals gain weight for winter with supplementary food and water, but please avoid mealworms or milk.
Create a toad abode
Provide somewhere toads, frogs or newts can use as a safe place to shelter over the winter.
Make a compost heap
Transform food waste into compost – as it breaks down the heat generation can provide a winter home for reptiles and insects.
Leave mature ivy
Ivy is a late flowering plant, providing pollen and nectar for late-flying insects and berries for birds over winter.
Plant a hedge
Hedges provide food, shelter and nesting sites – in autumn plant trees like hawthorn, alder buckthorn or crab apple.
Create a wildlife pond
From a small container to larger excavations, two-thirds of all freshwater species need ponds. They also attract a whole host of spectacular species closer to home.
Connect up gardens
Create a plan with your neighbours to create wildlife highways in your fences to give species like hedgehogs or toads access to your garden.