Important gardening jobs to do now to create ‘refuge’ for wildlife and ‘rest’ plants

Tidying up is one of the most important gardening chores for fall, with many of us focusing on bringing furniture inside for the winter and protecting non-hardy plants from the cold weather. While these tasks are important, one biodiversity expert has urged gardeners to consider “making a mess” instead to help wildlife “thrive” in the months to come. Only speak to revealed the two most important things to do in the garden by the end of September.

Autumn is a slow time for gardening and can leave many green-fingered Brits wondering what to do with their outdoor space.

While there is a wide range of bulbs and vegetables to plant ahead of winter, there is little to enjoy when it comes to colorful displays and floral interest.

However, according to Terry Smithson, senior ecologist at BioScapes experts in biodiversity in York, September is filled with opportunities to enjoy the natural wonders of your garden.

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Speaking exclusively to, he said: “When plants start to look tired and others are dying, it’s tempting to trim, trim and tidy up at the end of September, but wildlife often thrives in these untidy areas.

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“The bright flowers that are so vital to our bees, butterflies and other pollinators may be gone, but the old seed pods can be a bounty for seed-eating beetles and birds.

“And when the leaves begin to curl and dry up, they create perfect little hiding spots for creatures trying to flee from hunting birds.”

Whether you’re a fan of letting nature in your garden or not, there’s no denying the importance of keeping species like pollinators and pest-eating mammals here in the UK.

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It’s also incredibly easy, all you have to do is “make a mess” according to Terry.

He explained that holding back from pruning overgrown shrubs and woody stems is just one way to help wildlife, although you can also make woodpile or brazen wood if pruning is needed.

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Terry said: “These habitat clusters attract a variety of beneficial animals and putting them on in September will ensure that invertebrates, amphibians and hedgehogs can find them well before they go into hibernation.

“When these habitat and compost heaps collapse in the fall and winter, they provide ample feeding ground for robins, blackbirds, and hedgehogs.”

Sweeping up fallen leaves into piles is another easy way to improve biodiversity in your conservatory and will help both animals and your plants.

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Terry said, “The wetter conditions and abundance of new food raining down on the soil will feed a variety of fungi and bacteria, which in turn will release nutrients to the soil for new growth the following year.”

Understandably, you might be concerned about piles of wood making your yard look untidy, but it’s easily resolved.

Simply place the stakes behind or under existing shrubs to conceal them while still being useful to wildlife.

Always keep them out of sunlight to avoid drying out the materials.

While winter rainwater is easy to come by in gardens across the UK, it’s not always a guarantee in autumn.

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Terry said: “All life naturally needs water and if you can create a wild pond, no matter how small, it will quickly strengthen your garden ecosystem.

“September is a great time to start a pond as migrating animals are more likely to encounter it and return in the spring.”

If you already have a pond, now is a good time to do a little maintenance. This is because most species, including insects, will have finished reproducing by the end of September, leaving frogs and toads to look elsewhere for food.

Aquatic and emergent plants will continue to grow well, making it easier to spot areas where pruning back dominant plants will encourage more diversity.

Terry explained: “Carefully remove up to a third of seasonal growth to ensure plants and other pond life can grow vigorously again in spring.

“Leaving cuttings at the edge of the pond for a few days will encourage critters to crawl back to the pond, but remember to put these away or they’ll end up back in soon!”

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