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How to create a bug friendly garden

Follow our simple tips to create a beautiful and safe home for bugs in your garden. 

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They may not look cute and cuddly but we all rely on insects! They pollinate our crops, make honey and provide food for birds and many other native animals. Yet many insect populations are declining and need our help. We’ve teamed up with Buglife to make our communities more bug friendly, and we have plenty of tips to help you make your garden a safe space for bees, butterflies and our other insect friends. 

wildflowers

Wildflowers are a quick and easy way to make your garden more bug friendly, and they look beautiful too! The flowers will provide pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies, and the leaves are a great food source and shelter for other insects as well.

Wildflower seeds can be planted in flower beds, or if you’re short on space, any container with drainage holes in the bottom will work as well. The best time to sow the seeds is at the beginning of Autumn. Start by preparing your container or beds with suitable compost, and then sprinkle your seeds on top and gently press them into the soil. Lightly water the compost and make sure it doesn’t dry out whilst the seeds are growing. 

Flowers
Once your flowers have fully grown, they’ll only need an occasional watering and some thinning out if they become too crowded. Don’t forget to choose peat-free compost! The UK’s peat bogs are a precious habitat for many insects, plants and animals.

pesticides

Unfortunately chemical pesticides kill all insects, not just the garden pests you’re targeting. They also harm birds, hedgehogs and other animals. It’s especially important to avoid using pesticides on plants with open flowers and when you see pollinators or nests nearby.

There are a number of organic, pollinator friendly products and deterrents that are a better option if you do need to use pest control. You can also try planting helpful plants, such as lavender, rosemary and chrysanthemums to repel pests naturally.

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bee and bug hotels

Wild bees and other bugs like to nest in small, enclosed spaces to keep them safe from predators and the elements. A hotel is a great way to give a helping hand to these insects in your garden, and will ensure they have somewhere safe to stay all year round.

If you don’t want to make your own hotel, there are lots of ready made hotels to buy, including both simple and much more elaborate versions.

A shared garden area on a development
Bug hotel made from recycled wood

Welcome bees and bugs to stay

You can easily build your own bee and bug hotels from bamboo canes or paper straws, and it can be a really fun project to get children involved with too. 

a deadwood pile

Many of our insects, including beetles and spiders, use piles of rotten wood as a place to shelter and find food. In the countryside and our gardens, we often clear away fallen branches and leaves to help make it look tidier, but this means insects lose an important habitat.

To make your own deadwood pile, find a cool, shady corner of your garden that won’t be disturbed. Gather up different sized logs, sticks and twigs and stack them on top of each other to create a pile. You could add some bark and leaves to help attract toads and hedgehogs too. Leave the pile to rot naturally, and add a new log or two each year as the old logs decay. This will provide the perfect home for many different types of insects. 

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Family of 4 doing some gardening

Want to get more involved?

Buglife has lots of advice on how to make your garden a safe home for insects. And there’s plenty of ways to get more involved too, from local projects to activities for children and fundraising ideas.