Everything you need to know about planting for wildlife 

Green spaces are disappearing at an alarming rate due to urban expansion, therefore gardens and open spaces have become increasingly important, not only to us, but to the wildlife around us. Green spaces help to form green corridors, providing habitats and connectivity within towns and cities. Although it is usually a landscape architect’s job to design your landscapes and gardens, it is useful to know what we do and why we do it.

Why is wildlife important to us?

The benefits of attracting wildlife into our landscapes are endless. However, there are four main categories where wildlife can benefit us, these are:

  • Economic;
  • Medical and Scientific;
  • Aesthetic and Recreational; and
  • Ecological.

Not only is it important to plant for wildlife, but wildlife is also essential in allowing our landscapes to thrive. Insects are needed to pollinate plants, to encourage plants to produce seeds to enhance and help food crops.



The benefit of wildlife species is not limited to the value generated. When people hear of a beautiful landscape, they want to visit and to experience the aesthetic value. Similarly, when thinking about residential developments, if the landscape is of a high aesthetic value people are more likely to want to live there. The gain from this is the overall value of the property will be higher!

There are a few factors you need to think about before going ahead and planting up your garden/ landscape, including:

  • Location;
  • Soil;
  • The design;
  • Species; and
  • Maintenance.

In terms of location, there are many ways of introducing wildlife friendly planting into our landscapes and gardens, these include:

  • Borders
  • Hanging baskets
  • Ponds & Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)
  • Climbing plants
  • Wildflower meadows
  • Hedge planting
  • Green corridors

Variety is important when thinking about the design. A combination of taller structural species in one area and lower flowering plants in another will provide a habitat for a more diverse range of wildlife, including birds, mammals, and many insects. Areas of water can also attract a wide range of wildlife, including amphibians, mammals, and insects. Finding the right species for your garden is vital. Some species will grow well in a sunny location, yet some prefer full shade. Similarly with the soil, aspect and exposure, which should all be considered before deciding on a species.

Designing and installing the planting may be important, but this is fruitless if it is not maintained correctly. With shrub borders, weeding should be carried out sparingly to reduce soil disturbance. Weeds can also be a good food source for many birds, so weeding infrequently and lightly is encouraged. Pruning is also important for trees, hedgerows and shrubs, however, not all shrubs are maintained in the same way, so always check beforehand. For a maximum benefit to wildlife, management should be carried out in late winter.

A small list of planting species for wildlife welfare are listed below:

For bees:

  • Allium
  • Clovers (Trifolium)
  • Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
  • Crocus
  • Lavender (Lavandula)
  • Marjoram (Origanum)
  • Michaelmas daisies (Aster)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus)
  • Snowdrop (Galanthus)
  • Sunflower (Helianthus)
  • Thyme (Thymus)

For birds

  • Berberis
  • Crab apples (Malus)
  • Elderberry (Sambucas nigra)
  • Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
  • Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Rose (Rosa rugosa & Rosa moyesii)
  • Wild roses (Rosa canina)

For butterflies

  • Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
  • Aubretia (Aubrieta deltoidea)
  • Heather (Calluna vulgaris)
  • Hebe
  • Marigold (Calendula officinalis)