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Home Forums Champions’ chat Wild garden for wildlife Reply To: Wild garden for wildlife

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Hi MikeDhu

Welcome to the Forum! Yes, this is the right place to post.

Good news that you have hedgehogs visiting.

It’s a bit of a misconception that wildlife friendly gardens have to be just left to grow wild. The best wildlife gardens are managed for certain features, i.e. wood piles, ponds, etc. But there can be reasonably tidy areas around the features. So you could have areas of long grass and wild flowers with paths around and through them.

I would be inclined to try to do some judicious mowing leaving blocks of longer grass/wild flowers so that it actually looks as if it is cared for. Not knowing the circumstances – i.e. do the council own the land, are there by-laws, is it a front garden, does it look messy, is there a lot of rubbish or places which could attract rats, is it an urban or rural area, etc. I’m not sure whether your Council would accept blocks of longer grass surrounded by mown paths, but maybe a rational conversation with them, together with proof that you’ve made an effort may be useful.

Is it possible that the Council could enforce the clearing by doing it themselves and charge you for it? If so, it seems to me that is something that you would want to avoid, as I suspect you would do any clearing more considerately – from the point of view of any hedgehogs present.

If you are going to cut the grass at all, please check the longer grass very carefully just before doing any work. Hedgehogs can get horrendous injuries from strimmers and mowers which cause a lot of pain and suffering and are often fatal One way to minimise the risk of injuring a hedgehog is to, initially, cut the grass to about a foot high so that you would be able to see if any hedgehogs were present before cutting lower. If you found a hedgehog, you could put it safely in a box for a short time until the work is completed. If you find a nest, avoid cutting that area so as not to disturb the nest.

I would try to make your garden more wildlife friendly in a more organised way. There are some tips:

If you introduce some more variety into your wildlife garden, you may find that you get even more wildlife. Hedgehogs, for instance also like to have areas of short grass where they can forage for earthworms, etc. Likewise various species of birds.

You mention the idea of relocating the hedgehogs. That would be a bad idea. Hedgehogs have fairly large ranges and can travel up to 2 miles a night, so they would visit other gardens as well as your own and become very familiar with their ‘patch’. Releasing them into locations which they are not familiar with is not recommended – it could cause them to be completely disoriented and the stress caused to them could make them more susceptibule to infections. They could also potentially introduce infections into a new area where the existing hedgehogs may have lower resistance.

I would try to see this situation as an opportunity to make your garden even more wildlife friendly, in way which the Council (and others) may not object to.

Good luck. Let us know how you get on.