Whatever size your outdoor space, you’ll be sharing it with an amazing wealth of wildlife. Our busy lives can make it harder to spot all the creatures who choose to call our gardens home, but there are lots of ways you can help them to get through winter. Hedgehogs are a really helpful garden visitor – they eat the slugs, snails and caterpillars which would otherwise eat our plants! During the autumn months, they’re still out and about, feeding and fattening up for hibernation before they look for a suitable spot to sleep away the coldest part of the winter. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, making it less likely that you’ll see them out and about - so a brilliant way to find out if they visit your garden is to use a tracking tunnel. This is a covered arch with a shallow paint tray beside a bait station, with a paper trail on the way out, which entices hedgehogs to enter and then records their little footprints.
Once you know you have hedgehog visitors, you could leave a bowl of meaty cat food out in the evenings, along with a shallow dish of water to keep them hydrated. Just quickly grab your YOYO by FITT garden hose and fill up their water bowl (you can buy specially-made products) to hold an inch or two of clean water. Refill this every day to keep the supply topped up and fresh. As the weather turns colder, add a little warm water to delay freezing, enabling them to drink. You can also help with their hibernation – popular spots are under sheltered hedges, in compost heaps or under piles of fallen leaves, so leaving an area of the garden a little more natural, will help these prickly creatures thrive.
Growing shrubs which produce an abundance of autumn berries, keeping the bird feeders topped up and remembering to refill the birdbath regularly, are the best ways to guarantee plenty of different types of garden birds visit your outdoor spaces. Using a YOYO by FITT hosepipe to fill the birdbath means you have the option to jet wash it clean, to get rid of any green slime that’s building up—turn the Premium multi-spray gun to the powerful jet setting, to blast away all that grime! The gentle spray setting fills it back up in no time, ready for birds to bathe and drink. Break the ice each morning in very frosty weather to ensure the birds can find water. Adding a floating small ball or cork in the birdbath stop things icing up so quickly.
Siting a birdbox in the autumn gives birds a chance to accept them as part of the garden – they won’t smell new and will have mellowed into the landscape by next spring when nest building starts. When you’re choosing a new nestbox, the shape of the pop-hole at the front is the main way to influence which birds decide to nest in there. Robins like an open-fronted box, whereas smaller birds such as sparrows and finches, prefer those with a small, round hole to pop in and out of, keeping their new little family safe inside.