Want to help your local birds, beetles and butterflies nest and feed over the coming months? Here, we show you how
It's lovely being able to look outside in the spring and see a variety of birds, animals and insects enjoying your garden.
However, this is only likely to happen if you make the effort to provide a safe and attractive habitat for them. With the weather warming up a little, now is the perfect time to do that – and to help you, we've teamed up with our friends at BBC Gardeners' World magazine to bring you three simple gardening projects.
Follow the steps below to create a sparrow terrace, an insect habitat and a butterfly feeder – all things that will be greatly appreciated by the wildlife in your area.
If you do complete one of these projects, why not share your handiwork with other green-fingered types on the Boundless Gardening Group on Facebook? This friendly members' group is full of enthusiasts just like you, swapping tips and tricks on how to make the most out of their green spaces. It's free to join, so why not head over there today?
How to make a sparrow terrace
According to the RSPB, the main nesting season for house sparrows is April to August – so if you want to attract these birds to your garden, now is the perfect time to build a comfortable home for them.
Unlike most garden birds, house sparrows nest in loose family groups. It’s therefore a good idea to erect a ‘terrace’ of bird boxes, which enables them to nest communally. This design comprises three boxes in one. Fix it in a north-easterly direction, ideally beneath the eaves of your house. Ensure you place it as far from house martin or swift nests as possible, as the species are not compatible.
You will need
• Wood (see measurements below)
• A saw
• A hammer
• A drill with a hole-saw attachment
• Screws and screwdriver
• A paintbrush and exterior wood stain
1. Mark out and cut the wood pieces to the measurements above.
2. Nail the floor to the back, inset slightly to allow water to drain and prevent seepage. Nail the two interior walls in place, 18cm apart, using three nails to secure the partitions to the floor and the back.
3. Use a hole-saw drill attachment to make a 32mm entrance hole for each compartment. Nail on the front and ends.
4. Attach the lid using hinges. Cover this with a waterproof strip once the box has been painted.
5. Drill several holes in the floor so that any condensation or water brought in by the birds can drain away easily.
6. Paint the outside of the terrace with water-based wood stain, but leave the inside and the holes untreated.
Once you are finished, attach your sparrow box to an outer house wall, under the eaves, facing a north-easterly direction.
How to make an insect habitat
Globally, insects are suffering enormous declines. Studies have shown a 75 per cent fall in certain areas, with climate change, habitat loss, pesticides and even street lighting being blamed.
You can do your bit by creating an insect habitat in your garden. This simple project combines bricks, leaves and logs to make a cosy home for many insects. Position it at the back of your garden border, where predators such as beetles and centipedes can rest during the day and be on hand to eat slugs and other pests at night.
You will need
• A spade
• Dry leaves
• Logs cut to equal lengths
1. Dig a shallow hole.
2. Lay bricks around the hole and add a layer of leaves in the centre.
3. Place logs in between the bricks, over the leaves.
4. Place more leaves on top of the logs, piling them up so they make a mound.
5. Add more logs over the leaves to keep them in place.
How to make a butterfly feeder
Butterflies need nectar to give them the energy to fly and find a mate. We should aim to grow open, single flowers from March to November, but sometimes there may be no flowers for butterflies to drink from. This simple feeder, using a sugar-water mix, will give them a helping hand.
You will need
• A saucepan
• A clean sponge
• A bowl
1. Add roughly equal amounts of sugar and water into a saucepan.
2. Boil gently, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has melted.
3. Cut the sponge to size and place it in the bowl. It should fit snugly.
4. Gently pour the sugar solution onto the sponge, so it will be absorbed.
5. Place outside so that butterflies and other pollinators can take a drink.
5 other ways to attract wildlife to your garden
Don't fancy doing any crafty? There are a number of other ways you can encourage creatures to spend time in your garden...
• Grow some climbing plants – attached to walls or fences, the likes of honeysuckle and wild rose make great nesting spots for birds, as well as providing a safe habitat for smaller animals and insects
• Leave food out for hedgehogs – wait till after dusk and then put out some water and/or meat-based cat or dog food. Any left over in the morning should probably be discarded to stop flies laying eggs in it
• Buy flowers for bees – bumblebees that have roused early from hibernation will love feeding on crocuses and primroses. You should be able to pick these up from your local garden centre
• Don't turn your compost heap – as tempting as it is, avoid turning your compost heap until April, as there may well be frogs and insects hibernating deep within, and you don't want to disturb them
• Feed the birds – if birds in your area know that your garden is a good source of food, they'll return again and again. Leave out foods that are rich in fat and protein. You could even consider growing your own bird food
Photos: Getty Images, Sarah Cuttle and Jason Ingram