Monty Don has called us to action. His plea? That gardeners should make theirs a wildlife-friendly garden. As always, we are delighted to follow the gardening guru’s advice, and do our part for nature, and we’re pretty sure that fellow fans of Monty’s own wonderful plot, and expertise, will want to do so, too.
Monty looks on the project as the way all of us owners of an outdoor space can play our part in helping the environment. He told the Reading Chronicle, ‘If everybody does something small, you end up with big action.’
So we’re sharing Monty’s tips (plus a few of our own) here. Don’t forget that we’ve got tons more garden ideas in our feature, for gardens big and small.
My Garden World: the natural year (opens in new tab) is Monty Don's personal journey through the year, month by month, season by season, observed from the immediate world around him. Monty says, ‘If, in our own modest back yards, we can help preserve and treasure our natural world then we will make the world a better place – not just for ourselves but for every living creature.’
And if you want to discover more on how to create a wildlife garden then visit our dedicated feature also.
How to create a wildlife-friendly garden: Monty Don’s top tips
Monty shared his wildlife advice in the Reading Chronicle (opens in new tab), and we’ve got his top tips here.
1. A source of water is a must-have, Monty says. He’s previously shared his own wildlife pond on Insta, but don’t worry if your garden can’t accommodate a pond as he says that even a half barrel will work. What will the source of water attract? Monty says it’ll bring a range of wildlife from frogs to dragonflies, plus insects that will, in their turn, attract birds and bats.
If you are going to build a garden pond, the best place for it is a sunny part of the garden away from overhanging trees, and sheltered from the wind.
Of course, water’s also vital for your garden visitors to drink. Add a bowl or a bird bath to your plot, however modest it is.
2. Now we know this might go against the instincts of lovers of neatly mowed lawns, but also vital is having an area of long grass in your garden. It’s cover for wildlife, says Monty, and that includes insects plus creatures like voles, shrews, frogs and so on. Monty says you can grow wild flowers in this area, too, which will bring pollinating insects.
Your long grass can be in a corner of your space and it’s a great idea to situate it near the pond, if you have one, or a hedge.
3. Here’s another piece of advice from Monty that might mean you have to change your gardening ways a little: some untidiness is a good thing. That means leaving some heaps of leaves, for example, he says, or piling up sticks in a corner. Why? More cover for the wildlife, Monty explains.
4. Lucky enough to have a biggish garden? Monty recommends growing hedges, shrubs and trees to bring wildlife to your outdoor space. They’ll create room for birds to nest and perch, and can be a great food source.
5. There are also some things you might like to do now we’ve reached October to look after wildlife in your garden. The piles of leaves, twigs or other debris Monty recommended are especially crucial now to give hibernators a safe place to go. Make sure these are positioned where they won’t be disturbed.
Think about providing energy-rich food for birds as we head for colder weather as well. Peanuts and suet can help them get through the chilly days and nights.
Hedgehogs usually hibernate between November and mid March, says the RSPCA, so there’s still a chance to feed them. Go for tinned dog or cat food, but not fish based recipes, and crushed dog or cat biscuits, the animal welfare body advises. You can get hedgehog food, if you prefer. Bear in mind that milk is a definite no no, but like other wildlife, hedgehogs will appreciate fresh water.