Gardening for Birds and Wildlife

How to make some simple changes in how you manage your garden that will make it better for biodiversity

(With thanks to Birdwatch Ireland Westmeath Branch for the information)

Assessing what you have and protecting it.

What can you do?

First- do no harm!

Second-simple changes can make a big difference-

Changes in choice of plants

Planting of new plants/areas

Creating new habitats

Changes in perception of 'mess’

Shrubs for wildlife

Low maintenance, creates habitats for birds, insects and small mammals.

Choose native- Viburnum opulus- guelder rose or spindle.

Beware invasives- rhododendron and cotoneatser.

Choose a wide variety of shrubs, so there's always some flowers, berries or shelter.




Viburnums Lavatera Ulex-gorse Heathers

Hypericum Buddleia Ceanothus



Roses with hips Currants

Pheasant Berry?

Pyracantha Spindle Cotoneaster?


Ulex- gorse



Conifers- juniper

Beware thorns!

Make good security barriers

Make safe nesting for birds

BUT - Catch and hold litter and are unsafe beside paths

Holly, roses, pyracantha etc

Shrubs provide

Year round interest Roosting for birds

Nesting for birds Shelter for insects and small mammals

Some are winter flowering - e.g. sweet box, heather




Mature trees consist of several diverse habitats

Hedgerows are important too

Plant new trees

Leave dead wood standing or in situ

Large trees that die are very important habitats for insects and birds who nest inside trees.

• Check for safety and leave die and rot if possible.

• If beside buildings or paths remove branches and leave stump to rot. Otherwise cut down and leave on the ground

Planting new trees


Fruit trees.

Right tree in the right place.

Beware of stakes and tree ties!

Beware of strimmers!!!

Under tree management

Allow to be 'wild’

No herbicides

Don’t mow the grass

Don't strim

A clear mown edge between the 'forest' and lawn sends a clear message Why are perennials good for wildlife?

Flowers attract pollinators

Young foliage attracts invertebrates

Some produce edible seeds or berries

Insects hibernate on stems in winter

Allow perennials to set seed and stay 'messy' winter

If you refrain from ’dead heading' lots of plants produce seeds for birds and small mammals to eat.

Ladybirds hibernate over winter inside perennial stems

Some good choices of perennials

Most herbs

Seed producing perennials like Teased

Long flowering plants like Geraniums

Daises- e.g. Shasta daisy

Early flowering- e.g. Leopard’s Bane- Late flowering perennials e.g. Sedums or Solidago

Wild-flower meadows?

Need prep as for lawns

Need reseeding every few years or careful management

Or different expectations?

Willow Sculptures

Willow is a very important biodiversity plant

Flowers early- pollen source

Host to lots of insects

It is a fast grower

High maintenance - 3-4 times a year

Very important plant for wildlife- late flowers for bees - mid winter berries for birds

Nesting habitat

Roosting habitat

Insect habitat

Do not remove unless on health and safety grounds

Butterflies & Caterpillars

Nettles, ragweed, grasses, trees, cabbages, holly, nasturtiums

Various perennial and shrub flowers

Shallow water- wet moss



Especially for birds

Nesting habitat

Roosting habitat


Open ground

Leaf litter and mulch

Berries and seeds

Drinking and bathing water

Remember - NO Pesticides - NO Rodenticides - LESS Herbicides



Ivy is such a useful evergreen climber and if kept well trimmed it won't take over.  So any I find growing up into guttering will be pulledaway fromthe wall and cut back.

However, ivy growing in the informal boundaries ofthe garden will be left untrimmed aswill any in flower as honey bees find the late flowers a very valuable source of nectar in autumn.

Some gardeners believe ivy protect walls from heat and cold but others consider it to be damaging to structures.  I'm not sure who is right but the bees and I would certainily miss the curtains of green the clothe some of our garden buildings.