How to Attract Wildlife to your Garden in January

In the bleak midwinter, gardens fall dormant as flowers and shrubs wait patiently for spring to come. But life goes on for the wildlife in your garden – and at this time of year, it can often do with a little helping hand.

There are plenty of ways to help wildlife thrive despite the cold weather.

Garden birds benefit from being fed all year round, but winter is a time to provide foodstuffs with a high fat content. Starlings are fond of peanut cakes while finches enjoy berry cakes and wrens will enjoy tucking into finely chopped bacon rind. You can also create your own fat blocks by melting suet into shapes which can then be placed in logs or wire cages.

While fat is important to help birds through the winter months, it is also advisable to provide a mixture of grain or nuts to ensure they get a balanced diet; for example, many birds will enjoy sunflower hearts while goldfinches particularly enjoy niger seeds. Feed placed on a wire mesh just off the ground will entice birds such as robins and dunnocks while over-ripe apples or raisins scattered on the ground will be a firm favourite with thrushes and blackbirds.

January is also a good month for clearing out old nesting boxes and getting them ready for their new residents come the spring.

Birds also need water all year round, but this can often be challenging when the temperature drops, and water freezes over. A birdbath can be an attractive addition to your garden and helps to ensure all wildlife has a good water supply.

Leaving dead plant material on flowerbeds or adding bark mulch will not only protect the soil from frost and keep moisture at the roots of your trees and shrubs, but also help to form shelter and habitats for wildlife. Leaf piles for example create a great habitat for hibernating insects which are, in turn, a good source of nutrition for ground feeding birds, and blackbirds and winter thrushes often hunt for food around spent flower borders and bark mulch. Leaf piles also provide a warm place for small animals, such as hedgehogs, to hide and sleep.

Wildflower meadows are long since past their prime, but they have not outgrown their usefulness. The spent stems and seed heads will attract birds such as goldfinches, blue tits and sparrows whilst providing perfect insect hiding places – another potential nutritious meal for hungry birds.

Compost heaps are a great way of recycling your organic household waste and in return you get excellent homemade fertiliser for your garden. And a compost heap has endless benefits for wildlife too; composting material provides food for decomposers such as fungi and soil invertebrates which break down plant material, attracting birds and other wildlife to your garden.

January is the perfect time to add wildlife-friendly shrubs and trees into your garden. Bare-root plants are available at this time of the year and planting them now gives the plants good time to establish before the spring. Trees such as the elegant silver birch also provide food and a habitat for more than 300 insect species while birds enjoy its seeds.

The friendly, knowledgeable experts at Poplar Nurseries are here to offer help and advice, all year round; come and see us in store or get in touch through our website’s Contact Us page.