Create a 'catch-all' wildlife feature

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I’ve turned my attention away from my plants, just for a moment, to think about landscaping and features on my plot. I fancied a little spring project to add more interest – but as a wildlife lover and natural gardener, I’m generally reluctant to increase hard surfaces in place of plants. However, I decided I could do no wrong by creating a little naturalistic dry stone wall.

Dry stone walls are simply the place to be for wildlife, a hotspot for a huge range of species. Lichen, mosses and ferns cling to them, birds, hedgehogs, frogs, toads, newts and slow worms take shelter, small mammals hide, insects visit flowers planted in nooks. It’s like a metropolis for garden creatures! Plus they look lovely and natural, and can be cheaply made from recycled or reclaimed bits of stone. They need little maintenance – they need no mortar, for a start, and are all the better for it, meaning more gaps for animals and plants.

These simple features needn’t be the large monuments seen dividing up Yorkshire fields – you can make a much smaller affair by adding built up stones as a border surround, a corner statue, as pond edging, a patio divider or, as I’m doing, surround a new raised bed.

Traditionally they’re made by building up two smaller walls of stones next to one another and tapering together to the top like an ‘A’, connected and strengthened by larger ‘through stones’ that span the width of the structure. Lay them as you wish, but start with larger stones half buried at the bottom, built up in a classic brick wall pattern and infilled with smaller stones. Finish by adding a little compost to nooks and crannies and some saxifrage, aubretia, ferns or succulents.

Four small ways we can make a big difference

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