Five tips to prepare your garden for emerging hedgehogs
By Henry Johnson, Hedgehog Officer PTES
1. ‘Upgrade’ a shrub
Whilst it may be tempting to plant low maintenance, evergreen shrubs such as Euonymus japonicus, cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) or castor oil plant (Fatsia japonica) – these are poor value for hedgehogs as they are not great for insects and don’t provide nesting material.
Think about replacing them with a UK grown fruit tree, hawthorn or hazel.
2. Liven up a bare patch
If you have a sunny corner of a bed to spare, sow some seed and you and the hedgehogs will reap the rewards later in the season. This is because flowers will encourage the insects that hedgehogs love to eat.
If you want instant impact, choose a selection of annuals (e.g. poppy, cornflower, corncockle). If you want a long-term solution, use perennial flowers (e.g. knapweeds, field scabious, vetches and trefoils). You can also do it in a pot…
3. Fox and cat proof your feeding station
All hedgehogs that emerge from hibernation in March/April are likely to be hungry, and so now is a good time to prepare for them. Take a lead from these ingenious examples from Hedgehog Champions of how to be selective with who you feed… (and here’s a video of why it’s worth thinking about!).
More information about what you can feed hedgehogs here.
Using a clear plastic storage box means you can watch the hedgehogs feeding from the comfort of your living room.
4. Add a nesting option
Even if you have the perfect hedgehog garden, you can always do more. Try and add one of the following features to add another nesting opportunity…
- pretty thicket – e.g. grow a clematis up an old tree stump
- earthy woodpile – plant honeysuckle to enhance it, and bury some logs too for stag beetles
- leafy hedgerow – lay it after five years to make it really thick (and only buy stock that’s labelled as grown in the UK)
- quiet compost heap – leave this one unturned, and this will minimise the risk to nesting animals
5. Think about access
Does every boundary in your garden have a hedgehog highway? Excitingly, more hedgehog-friendly fencing options are becoming commercially available. For example this from Jacksons.
Don’t forget to add any new hedgehog highways to The BIG Hedgehog Map too.