Rate your garden
SPRINGWATCH gave me a call a few weeks back and asked if I could design a quick garden audit, to help us all encourage more wild visitors into our gardens.
In ten easy steps (and a bonus question), you could be on your way to a having a haven for birds, mammals and insects, all within easy viewing of your kitchen window.
Whether you have a pocket-handkerchief sized plot in the town or an acre in the countryside, we can all enjoy a bit of wildlife in our gardens.
Just a bit of fun, with a serious side - so tally up your results and feel free to share your scores and tips below.
1. Bird feeding station (4 points)
A bird feeding station is a good start for any garden - providing high-energy food for hungry birds throughout the year.
- BBC guide to feeding garden birds.
- RSPB feeding birds guide
2. Long grass (1 point)
Just forget to mow one corner of your garden to allow the grass to grow long. Perfect for crickets, grasshoppers, ants and small mammals such as voles.
- How to make your lawn wildlife friendly
- RSPB Lawns for wildlife
3. Nectar-rich plants (2 points)
Insects such as bumblebees and butterflies need energy too - so treat them, and yourself, to a flowerbed with nectar-rich plants during the spring and summer.
- Plants for a wildlife garden
4. Bird bath (2 points)
Just like us, birds need water - to drink and to bathe. A simple bird bath is easy to buy or make.
- RSPB advice on Bird Baths
5. Compost heap (1 points)
Compost heaps provide just the right temperature for creatures such as worms and invertebrates, which in turn attract birds. You may even be lucky enough to get a slow worm or grass snakes (try these links)
6. Logpile (3 points)
Piles of cut wood are an ideal hideaway for all sorts of insects and other invertebrates, as well as small mammals. And hedgehogs may even hibernate in there through the winter.
- Wild about gardens - making a logpiles
7. Nest boxes (3 points)
Once you've attracted birds to your garden, why not provide them with a ready-made home? You could invest in a nest-cam, so when there's nothing telly you can watch your very own SPRINGWATCH unfold in your back garden. There are plenty to choose from different manufacturers these days.
8. Berry-bearing shrubs (4 points)
Birds love berries - high-energy fruit to help them get through the autumn and winter.
- RSPB Birds and berries guide
9. Pond (5 points)
A wildlife garden needs a pond - even a tiny patch of water will bring birds to drink and bathe, frogs and newts to live, mammals to drink, and insects to feed and breed.
- Pond conservation - making a pond
10. Wild flower meadow (5 points)
If you're really ambitious to make your garden into a wildlife haven, then a wild flower meadow is ideal - hard work, but well worth it! (try these links)
- BBC Breathing Places - sowing wild flowers
- RHS - Wildflower meadows
11. Bonus Points: Get your neighbours involved (5 points)
Animals need large and interconnected green areas, so the more of your neighbours that have wildlife friendly gardens, the better it will be for everyone.
- The benefits of wildlife volunteering in UK
24-35 points: you are a wildlife star and a fine example for all of us on SPRINGWATCH - your garden will rival anything we have filmed for the series
16-23 points: you are doing a great job attracting wildlife to your garden - keep up the good work.
8-15 points: your garden is already good for wildlife but could be a better - start digging that pond.
1-7 points: the good news is that anything you do will make your garden a lot better for wildlife - and, hopefully, you
General help about wildlife gardening
- Gardening to attract wildlife
- RSPB planning and creating a wildlife-friendly garden
- Scottish Wildlife Trust: In your garden
Editors Note: About Stephen Moss