Summer wildlife gardening

Whether you have a small postage stamp sized piece of land or 10 acres – what you do with your garden can make a huge difference to your local wildlife. Our resident wildlife gardening expert, Gill (Fleur Fox on twitter), is here to provide you with some handy tips to help make the most of the space that you have.

With the long daylight hours there is time to spend enjoying the garden. You should be mindful of the birds which may only just be rearing what might be the only brood they can raise this year. Depending on the winter and spring that has been before – plants may be slow to start their yearly growth may not flower at their usual time or indeed not flower at all. Insect and small mammal numbers may be drastically reduced. However, there are some useful things that you can be doing in the garden during summer that are of real benefit to wildlife.

Hot summer

When the weather is hot and dry the most important task is watering. Late evening and early morning are the best times to reduce loss from evaporation. A good drenching 3 times a week is better than a little daily for main beds. Direct the water onto the soil around the plants not on the foliage which is of no benefit and produces tiny magnifying water droplets for the sun to burn the foliage. Some plants especially annual flowers naturally droop during the hottest part of the day so resist the urge to rush out and water.

Climbers, hedges, shrubs and trees should not be cut back at this time of year. It will disturb nesting birds and stresses the plant making them more susceptible to disease and dieback.

When weeding, unless you are opening to the public or expect a VIP guest, leave small weeds foliage lying in the beds, since the slugs and snails will often munch on them and not your prize specimens. Any residue can be turned into the soil for the worms. 

Small ponds can be topped up with a little water if the hot weather persists but more beneficial would be to obtain one of those multispray attachments for a hose. Use the misting nozzle and waft it over the pond. This cools the air above the surface and is said to aid oxygen absorption.

Continue to buy seeds and plants to fill spaces in your garden. Get down to your local nursery and see which plants the bees and insects are buzzing around, they’re the ones to buy. Take off the dead flowers from plants in the garden as much as you can. It’s tedious but it does encourage the plant to produce new flowers in a bid to set seed and provides extra food source for bees and insects. 

Wet summer

With continued wet weather and dull days the most important task is caring for the soil. Resist standing on flower beds which will compact the earth reducing the air within, leading to stagnation and destruction of micro-organisms so important for soil structure. In areas where water has built up, assist drainage by piercing the area with a garden fork. Plants can be rescued and potted up for replanting later in the season.

Climbers, hedges, shrubs and trees should not be cut back at this time of year. It will disturb nesting birds and stresses the plant making them more susceptible to disease and dieback.

When weeding, unless you are opening to the public or expect a VIP guest, leave small weeds foliage lying in the beds, since the slugs and snails will often munch on them and not your prize specimens. Any residue can be turned into the soil for the worms. 

Continue to buy seeds and plants to fill spaces in your garden. On dry days visit your local nursery and see which plants the bees and insects are buzzing around, they’re the ones to buy. Take off the dead flowers from plants in the garden as much as you can. It’s tedious but it does encourage the plant to produce new flowers in a bid to set seed and provides extra food source for bees and insects.

Please support our work

The Global Wildlife Rescue Project is a registered charity in England & Wales. Registered charity number 1188557.

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