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8 easy ways to attract more wildlife to your garden

With our towns and cities becoming larger, and our sections and backyards becoming smaller, New Zealand's natural wildlife is becoming scarcer in our urban gardens. We need a balanced eco-system to help our gardens thrive, therefore birds, bees, butterflies and geckos, bats, praying mantises, ladybugs and spiders are all examples of wildlife we need to be encouraging back into the garden. They will help pollinate flowers, keep insect pests at bay, and disperse seeds. Plus there will be more bird-song, and your plants will be healthier.

Here are 8 easy ideas for improving your garden habitat:

  1. Let your herb garden go to seed - the birds will love it, and the bees and butterflies will be attracted to the flowers
  2. Lots of mulch and leaf litter in your garden beds will encourage insects, and in turn geckos, skinks, native birds and wetas
  3. Flowering and fruiting trees and shrubs will keep the birds happy and coming back for more. Some bird species have a tough time over winter, so ensure some of your plants are winter flowerers
  4. A bird-bath is a great addition to any garden. Place it where you can see it from indoors and the birds will provide lots of entertainment when they come for a drink or a bath. Just keep an eye on the cat!
  5. Provide shelter and protection for geckos and skinks using piles of logs, bark or bricks in your garden beds
  6. If you decide to make a nesting box, be aware that only introduced birds will use them - native birds prefer to nest in trees like kanuka, puriri and macrocarpa
  7. A great way to attract tui to your garden is by making up sugar water - dissolve quarter of a cup of raw sugar in some hot water, then make it up to half a litre with cold water. Put a small amount in the half shell of a coconut and hang it in a tree as high as you can. Only do this through winter when nectar is in short supply. Bear in mind that you shouldn't use honey in your sugar water as it attracts bees and spreads bee diseases
  8. There are certain trees and shrubs that you can plant that our native birds love - in particular kowhai, cabbage trees, astelia, flax and titoki. We have a huge kowhai in our backyard that tui love at this time of year. I really enjoy waking up to the sound of tui cackling and warbling away at sunrise - not a bad alarm clock!
Put some of these tips into practice, and you will have a flourishing, bird-filled garden in no time.