Wildlife-friendly Gardening Tips For the Summer
Under the impression that there isn’t much for you to do during the summer to help the wildlife in your garden? Although we put emphasis on the spring and autumn as being those seasons when our garden wildlife needs us the most, in fact, there is no let up year round. And there’s much you can be doing in the summer to encourage and help furry, fluffy and feathered friends visiting your green space – whether that be a garden, patio, balcony or window sill. Plus it’s a bonus to be outside during the sunny summer months, catching a glimpse of the regular and new visitors taking advantage of your hard work.
Creating shelter for wildlife
During the summer months, you may see adult frogs and toads appearing from your garden pond. If the weather is hot, they will be looking for somewhere to shelter during the day. The best thing you can do for them is to create a log, wood or rock pile where they can safely cool off.You don’t need a large space for this, just a few rocks or large branches will be fine. You need to ensure it is stable and won’t topple and one of the best ways of doing this is actually digging the bottom rocks or logs into the ground. This also gives invertebrates like beetles and bugs an opportunity for shelter and food as well. Our Frogilo Frog and Toad House is another option which doubles as a summer cooling shelter and winter warming habitat.
Refilling ponds and bird baths
If you do have a garden pond, then you will notice the water level dropping during the summer. When refilling your pond, it’s best to use water from a water butt rather than the tap or garden hose as the chlorine levels in our drinking water will kill the good as well as the bad bacteria in your pond water. If you don’t have anywhere to collect rainwater, then fill up a watering can and leave the water for 24 hours before adding it to your pond.
Bird baths can be refilled with tap or garden hose water and it’s best to try and do this on a daily basis when the sun is shining. By doing so, the water should stay clean and fresh but if you start to see mould or algae building up then it’s a good idea to give the bird bath a scrub with very hot water and some eco-friendly washing up liquid before refilling it. That way you’re ensuring your garden birds aren’t picking up any bacteria when they come for their daily wash and drink. If you don’t have a bird bath in your garden, then you can simply leave out a shallow saucer of water or even make your own bath from an old sink or washing up bowl. Just remember to add some rocks or logs into it, so that if other wildlife like hedgehogs or bees for example want to use it, then it’s easier and safer for them to crawl in and back out again.
Leave your hedgerows and meadows
For anyone with hedges surrounding their garden, or those lucky enough to have small meadows of wildflowers, try and resist the urge to do any lopping, cutting or pruning just yet. You may find that some species of garden birds are still nesting into July and even August. Whereas leaving lawns and meadows to grow long, can help pollinators and insects to shelter from the hot temperatures.
Keep feeding your hedgehogs
Have you noticed hedgehogs visiting your garden this year? You may not have been lucky enough to see them, but you might have noticed signs such as their small dark coloured poos or tracks through your lawns. Female hedgehogs give birth during the summer and leaving out extra hedgehog food can help the mums not to stray too far from their nests. Just be careful not to disturb any nests at all, as the mum may abandon the hoglets. You can ‘hide’ the food inside a hedgehog house if you are worried about cats coming along to eat it. Always remember to leave out water for the hedgehogs as well, as they need it just as much as the birds.
Attracting butterflies to your garden
July and August are peak months for butterflies in Britain. Planting late flowering plants and bushes in your garden, like buddleia, lavenders, hebes, cornflower and verbena will attract butterflies. It’s also great to consider attracting caterpillars ahead of the butterfly season, and in particular making a small patch for nettles in your garden can be a great source of food for them. Once you have reached the summer months, then it’s a lovely idea to spend some time in your garden with a Butterfly ID chart to see what you can spot and identify.
Taking advantage of bat season!
We’re big bat fans here at Simon King Wildlife so this isn’t so much a gardening tip, but more a way to enjoy the wildlife flying over your garden. That’s because the summer months are the best for bat watching. Young bats will be learning to fly and catch insects and adult bats will be searching for mating roosts. Use our Field Guide, produced together with The Mammal Society, to help you try and identify bats. Or you can invest in a Bat Detector to hear their familiar, famous clicks on a summer’s evening.
Providing for leaf cutter bees
Leaf-cutter bees are fascinating to watch and tend to appear later in the summer months. You may see them carrying tiny circles of leaves, returning to the same spot over and over again with new leaf circles during a sunny morning or afternoon. They’re using the leaves to make chambers in between their eggs, which they will pack back to back inside a tunnel. You might see them flying into a hole in your brickwork, or a soft mud patch on the ground, or inside an old dead tree. Leaf-cutter bees in particular like to ‘cut’ their leaf patches from ash, birch, honeysuckle, horse-chestnut, lilac, rose, beech, tutsan, and sycamore trees. So it’s good to consider growing these in your garden if you can. If you are worried that you have no natural areas for leaf cutter bees to nest, and you want the chance to watch them work, then you could consider building or buying a solitary bee hive. Our Interactive version allows you to lift the lid on the Perspex-covered top. Giving you a glimpse of what’s happening inside.
You may notice bumblebee colonies taking up residence in old bird boxes during the summer and some people make the decision to leave their bird boxes untouched throughout the year. That means that instead of clearing them out at the end of the season, you can leave the old nesting material in and watch the bumblebees move in! This species of bumblebee are known as Tree Bumblebees because they would naturally nest in holes in old trees. They are relative newcomers to the UK, first arriving in 2001 from Europe but are now common here. Other species of bumblebess like to nest in tunnels underneath hedges or old mouse nests and vole nests. The best thing you can do for bumblebees is similar to other wildlife – and that’s not to be too tidy in your garden. Piles of twigs and leaves, moss and upturned flower pots offer excellent nesting sites and material. Or take a look at our Ceramic Bumblebee Nester that’s suitable for bees and mini mammals.
Competition for bird seed
During the summer, competition for food is high amongst the birds visiting your garden, especially if they are used to you keeping bird feeders or tables. After the spring breeding season, there are a lot more hungry mouths to feed, and any parent birds still nesting will have to look after their own energy levels as well as their chicks. Providing high-energy food like sunflower hearts, kitchen scraps including raisins, apples and cooked pasta or pastry. Remember to keep your feeders clean and offer smaller amounts more regularly, rather than larger amounts which may not be eaten quickly enough and bacteria will begin to build up.