Posted by: the3rdi | March 16, 2010

LOOK AFTER YOUR GARDEN WILDLIFE THIS SPRING

Build a block of flats for your favourite garden creatures

With the warmer weather hopefully on its way, now is the ideal time to get outside in your garden and create a perfect habitat for the huge array of wildlife which live right outside your door step.

Children are fascinated by wildlife whether they are wriggly worms, creepy spiders, loveable ladybirds, buzzy bees, mice or frogs! And they will love helping mum and dad to build this amazing-looking wildlife stack, which provides much needed shelter and nesting places throughout the important months ahead.

Carolyn Budding, director at Little Terra, the UK’s leading kids outdoor gear company, said:

“A wildlife stack is like a block of flats for our garden friends – providing a range of different animals and bugs with essential shelter and nesting sites. By providing a number of habitats all in one structure your children will be helping lots of species survive and may even encourage new and unusual visitors to your garden!”

There are no rules to building a wildlife stack – you can be as creative as you want and use materials and junk you have lying around. The easiest way to start is with a number of wooden pallets, which you can often get for nothing from supermarkets, garden centres and other retailers or which many people often have rotting in their gardens from old deliveries.

Once you have collected four or five pallets the next step is to think about what you want to put in between them. Consider using a different material for each layer to add contrast and interest and make the stack look like an outdoor work of art. Pebbles, rocks, household bricks, twigs, roof tiles, garden paving slabs, straw and logs will all look amazing and attract different little creatures.

1.. Take a walk around your garden to see where best to site your stack. Stay away from damp areas as well as parts of the garden that may get too hot in summer. The site should be level and remember when it’s finished it may be several feet high so choose somewhere where it won’t get in the way.
2.. Firstly lay out a layer of bricks on the ground – broken ones are perfect for this job and provide little crevices for frogs and toads and other amphibians. Then place a wooden pallet on top.
3.. Stuff the pallet with straw, wooden shavings or dry grass, which will make cosy nesting sites for many creatures and attract queen bumble bees.
4.. Add some bricks around the edges – air bricks with holes in are best for this as they will ensure a good flow of air through the structure and the holes also look good stuffed with pine cones – the perfect habitat for spiders, small insects and other invertebrates as they hide in the gaps between the cone scales.
5.. Make sure the structure is stable, then place another pallet on top and then create a different layer. A more open environment would be good here – try using clay plant pots around the outside and fill in the middle with old roof tiles or broken garden pots – a great little den for hibernating reptiles and lizards.
6.. Add a third pallet and create a contrast in material with some twigs and branches bunched together which will be perfect for larger insects, including every child’s favourite garden visitor – butterflies.
7.. You could add a fourth pallet and make a different layer. Pebbles, rocks and stone will look great and will create a similar habitat to a drystone wall, providing a cool and shady spot for reptiles and nocturnal animals on hot days. Logs with holes drilled in to the end will provide nesting places for many insects including solitary bees. Bits of bamboo lengths will give ladybirds a home over winter and rolled up pieces of corrugated cardboard are ideal for attracting lacewings into your garden, as their larvae feed on aphids and other pests.
8.. Once you have finished layering, make a roof to keep the stack dry with a piece of roof felt or heavy duty UV stabilised polythene tacked on.

9.. Complete the look with attractive pieces on the top such as logs, cones, rocks or make it look like a proper little house with ornate chimney stacks and roof tiles – the children will be bound to come up with lots of ideas to help!

Your hard work will be rewarded with an attractive garden structure that will look good and which will keep the kids occupied for hours, checking out your latest garden guests.

For inspiration see the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife Stack at its Conservation Centre at The Avenue Washlands, Wingerworth, Chesterfield or visit http://www.littleterra.co.uk or http://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk.

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