With summer winding up and autumn on the way, now is the perfect time to start thinking about giving your garden an eco-friendly makeover. Whether you’re working with a compact apartment balcony or a spacious suburban backyard, these tips and tricks will help you attract birds and bees to your garden throughout the year.
Know your natives
Native birds like tūī, kererū (native wood pigeons) and bellbird will make a beeline for your garden if it’s brimming with flowers and fruit. Look for plants that are native to your local area, including favourites like flax, kowhai, kakabeak and tarata for nectar, as well as fruit-bearing trees like karamū, korokia and wineberry. For more information on what to plant head to the Department of Conservation website.
Let your shrubs and herbs flower
While it can be tempting to snip off flowering stems of basil, rocket and spinach plants, letting them go to seed will see bees swarm to your garden. Letting plants and herbs flower plays an important role in maintaining healthy bee populations and ensuring pollinators have access to plenty of food. This is something you can do even if you just tend to a few planter boxes on your porch. Of course, if you want to add a splash of colour to your garden you can always dedicate an entire box or garden bed to native flowers.
Learn to love containers
Just because you’re working with a small space it doesn’t mean you can’t plant trees and shrubs that would usually root into the ground. Instead, try experimenting with container-friendly shrubs like titoki, broadleaf, kakabeak and cabbage tree.
Offer a healthy supply of insects
Insects are an important dietary requirement for birds like silvereye, fantail, kingfisher, ruru and grey warbler. Keep them well fed by encouraging a healthy mix of beetles, spiders, moths and earthworms to your garden. A great way to do this is by adding a generous layer of mulch to your gardens (or containers) or a sprinkle of leaf litter.
Build insect hotels
A fantastic activity to do with the grandkids, building your own insect hotels is an effective way to attract critters to your garden. There’s a wealth of information online so why not head to your local hardware store, pick up a few bits and pieces and start building? There’s a wealth of DIY instructions online which you can access with a simple Google search.
Bring on the butterflies
Now is a great time to sprinkle a few swan plant seeds around your garden, which provide a perfect egg-laying location for monarch butterflies. It’s still hot enough to encourage germination and the onset of autumn means there’s plenty of time for your plants to establish before winter sets in and the cold weather slows growth.
Do you have any tips on how to attract birds, bees and other insects to your garden?