Author Jess Price
Ronnieís blog about green resolutions
Whether you have large country garden, a concrete patio or a small balcony, by following just a couple of my suggestions you can help to really improve the biodiversity of your local area.
My eight garden resolutions
1. Just add water
Water is the number one resource that will instantly improve the attraction of any garden to wildlife. Itís not just frogs and newts that will appreciate the addition. Birds, hedgehogs, bats and bees all need water to survive, so having it available at a range of heights day and night could make a big difference.
Why not build a garden pond? Or in smaller spaces use an old bucket, sink or bath to add some water. Use stones and logs to build up sloping sides that creatures can use to get in and out of the water, and remember to add some native oxygenating pond plants to prevent the water going stagnant.
2. Make a connection
You can have the most fantastic wildlife garden in the world, but it wonít be much good if animals canít access it. Think about how wildlife can get in and out of your outdoor space and where they will go once they leave. Add a hole in the bottom of your fence that low lying creatures such as toads and hedgehogs can move through or even better, replace your fence with a native hedgerow.
3. Think outside the box
Donít feel that your space is too small to be valuable for wildlife, space of any size and shape has the potential to contribute. Vertical surfaces, textured walls even bin stores and the tops of bird boxes can be used to create extra habitat. Why not hang some wildflower baskets or plant low lying herbs into the cracks and crevices of your patio. Small holes drilled into fence posts can be used by solitary bees in spring or hibernating ladybirds and lacewings in autumn. See here for more ideas.
4. Build a home
January is a great time to put up a bird box, but you will need to get it up quickly to have a chance of it being used this year. You could build your own using the instructions in our factsheet and how to video. Do remember, that you also need to think about providing the resources the adult and baby birds will need if they nest such as water and insect-rich sources of food.
5. Add something edible
January can be a great time to add something edible for you and for wildlife in your garden. Providing the ground isnít frozen, you could add a fruit bush or even a whole hedge. In smaller spaces plan for a herb garden or a small veg patch and start preparing the area. You could simply use a grow-bag on your balcony or roof terrace.
6. Keep cats indoors
Garden birds will already be thinking about where to nest this spring. Males will soon be singing their little hearts out desperate to attract a female and unfortunately this means they may also be attracting some feline visitors. Birds are especially vulnerable to cats at dawn and dusk when they are still singing but cannot see very well in the half light. By keeping cats in at night you can make a big difference to the number of birds and small mammals killed in your local area.
7. Get youíre clippers out
January and February is the ideal time to trim any hedge plants you have as their berries should have already been gobbled up by hungry wildlife, but the breeding season hasnít started yet. Aim for an ĎAí shaped hedge with a wide base tapering into a narrow top. This allows light to flood into the hedge whilst creating a wide space at the bottom for creatures such to move along.
8. Notice what you see
Wildlife sightings from urban areas are particularly important as there are usually relatively few records from these built up areas. By noting down what you saw, when you saw it and where, you can really help to build up a clearer picture of wildlife in Sussex. Why not leave a simple recording sheet pinned up in your kitchen or on a window ledge so you can note down things as and when you see them? You can then pass all the records onto the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre in one go.