Now that the weather is getting colder, the Northumberland Wildlife Trust is calling on people to do their bit to help ensure the region’s more vulnerable animals make it through the winter unscathed.
Think of the autumn and images of golden leaves and hedgehogs getting ready to hibernate spring to mind. And that is good news for those who can’t face the colder weather. For by taking on board the wildlife charity’s tips on how to attract hedgehogs – and other animals and birds – into gardens, householders will be able to watch many of them through the window.
The trust says it is easy to attract and nurture wildlife at this time of year and is offering its top five ‘don’ts’ for autumn gardening.
- Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow
Over the past couple of years we have experienced warmer autumns which means grass keeps on growing – let it! Leave it to provide shelter for insects through the colder months which, in turn, will feed the birds. If you don’t want to leave the entire lawn, adjust your mower to cut the grass to at least 3.5 – 5cm and consider leaving a patch to grow, which can provide a haven for creatures such as frogs and mice.
- Don’t clear away rotting wood.
Rotting wood is a valuable part of the ecosystem. If you leave it, it could become home to beetles, fungi, centipedes and more.
- Don’t burn or discard all the dead leaves in your garden.
Some creatures use dry leaves to line their nests or burrows. If you make a pile in the corner of your garden, something is bound to move in. The mulch left over from dead leaves is full of nutrients which is good for worms and other mini-beasts.
- Don’t cut back your ivy.
The flowers can provide nectar to insects like queen wasps through the autumn months and it offers a safe warm hideaway for butterflies and small mammals. The berries will continue to ripen and provide food for birds.
- Don’t cut back hedges when they are producing berries.
All sorts of berries are a valuable food source for birds and mammals. If hedges are cut back, they leave very little food for wildlife as temperatures drop and damage the habitat in which birds and small mammals live.
Duncan Hutt, head of land management at Northumberland Wildlife Trusts, said: “Gardens are a vital source of shelter and food for wildlife, especially during the autumn when many species need warm, dry spaces to bed down in.
“When you are out in your garden this autumn – perhaps tidying it up before it becomes too unpleasant to venture outside, please bear in mind how holding back on some projects can help wildlife, and you will be rewarded with visits from some wonderful species, as well as the knowledge you are making a positive contribution to wildlife and the environment.
“Even leaving small patches at the bottom of your garden or piling leaves behind the shed, can make a big difference”