I'm a London-based freelancer who writes about costume design, performance art, pop culture deconstructions, literary evaluations, reviews and bucket lists on my blog Diary of a Self-Confessed Nerd
Published April 16th 2013
Ways to encourage wildlife and green into any city space
As far back as I can remember I have always been privileged enough to have a garden or balcony. As a child I was always encouraged to help plant the vegetable patch, or visit the greenhouse and check on the seedlings. Looking after the garden has always been important to my family, but what about the wildlife we share our space with? Aiding the wildlife in the local area is not only easy, even in the city, but it can be cheap and rewarding too.
Talking to my grandmother she helped me put together ten points, several of which will enrich any green patch you have available, including balconies and communal gardens.
It's always worth planting local and natural flowers, especially pollinators. This will help a garden, or balcony by the use of pots to look vibrant, but importantly they will bring insects, which will then encourage birds. To find flowers that are specific to your region go to the Natural History Museum's Postcode Plants Database website online. Most of the flowers can be bought at garden centres or, if you prefer, they can be grown from seed.
If potting and planting isn't your thing, then setting up a nest box or two for both birds and bats is another relatively cheap way to draw wildlife into the garden. Be aware of squirrels though. Recently we lost our bird box to one and while there has been no takers to our bat box, our bat colony is still present in the area. Persistence is the key and it always helps to develop a habitat these creatures want to live in, where it is safe and food is readily available in the surrounding area.
Having a compost heap is always handy; specialist bins are sometimes available free from your local council. It is always worth investigating as having a heap isn't just good for chucking the grass cuttings and potato peels in, but it is also great for you…
As having a compost heap or bin also means having a great fertilizer on hand 24/7. This means you not only save money, but you can also lessen the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers which can be very harmful to wildlife.
Another little trick is to have a herb garden. Sometimes it can be fiddly to make sure all herbs are happy, but it is well worth it. It means freshness for you, but they are also attractive to insects and offer a great habitat too.
Planting a tree or nurturing a hedge also means you are offering a great habitat, providing you have the space.
If you can, a birdfeeder/water bowl is the easiest and friendliest way to encourage wildlife into the garden. Both are relatively inexpensive and always available at garden centres, but it is imperative to keep them both clean and topped up regularly. Birds will always come back if they know food will be available all times of the year.
Controlling pets is always a big issue if you have them. Cats especially, but this can be done just by attaching a bell to their collar and making sure to feed birds on raised tables.
Finally, remember that rodents, some insects and selected birds can be considered pests. If you have any issues you must contact a local pest control association with the relevant CRB checks, and BPCA qualifications for information, advice, and services.