How to give the wildlife in your garden a helping hand this winter

Gardeners are being urged to hang out fat balls and avoid turning their compost heaps in order to help wildlife this autumn.

From the humble hedgehog to toads and frogs, wildlife found in gardens across the country are starting to adapt and prepare for the winter ahead.

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Ensuring the animals have access to food, water and shelter will mean they have a much better chance of surviving the winter.

To help with this, experts at GardeningExpress.co.uk have come up with six tips to help you help wildlife this winter.

A spokesman said: “When it turns to autumn many of us start to change our house in order to make it cosy for winter.

“By changing a few things in our gardens, we can help make life easier for the wildlife as well.”

1. Food

Placing food out for animals to eat without needing to hunt or scavenge is a simple but effective way to look after local wildlife.

Place fat balls or blocks out for birds along with grain and nuts to keep them going through the winter months.

2. Bonfires

Although big community bonfires won’t be happening this year, if you’re planning one at home it’s important to check for all animals and wildlife before setting it alight.

These can include hedgehogs, toads and frogs.

Prod underneath the bonfire with a stick to encourage the animals to move before you strike a match.

3. Compost heap

Compost heaps are a great place for hibernating animals to live due to the warmth it can provide.

Take caution when turning your heap, or if you’re able to try and avoid turning it at all, or as much as normal, during the cold winter months.

4. Ponds

If you have a pond and see it frozen over, try and melt a hole in the middle so that the animals can still find a source of water.

Do this by using a saucepan full of hot water.

Don’t hit or crack the ice as this can cause shockwaves causing potential damage to the animals in the pond.

A little dish of water at ground level is also a great source of water.

5. Berries

If you have any berry or fruit trees in your garden, ensure you leave some fallen fruit and berries untouched.

By doing so, birds such as thrushes and blackbirds can enjoy food before winter hits.

Traditional hedgerow berries such as blackberries, sloes and rosehips will provide food for birds during the colder months.

6. Bug hotels

Building a bug hotel with pieces of wood and leftover bricks and other materials will provide a safe place for bugs to call home.

It can be as small or as big as you like and can be as simple as a pile of logs.