Wildlife Habitats : Woodland Edges

Wildlife Habitats : Woodland edges

The edge of a wood, where partial sunlight allows a range of shrubs and wild flowers to grow beneath the tree canopy, is always teeming with life. Each tier of vegetation provides homes for a different creatures; for example, in the case of birds, the song thrush lives in the tree tops, the finches among the shrub branches and the wrens and blackbirds in the low vegetation and ground cover.

wildlife habitats - woodland edges Even in a small garden, it is easy to re-create this woodland edge in a mixed border.

Tree layer

Grow at least one tree if you have the space; if space is limited grow a dwarf ornamental tree such as a crab apple or one large shrub. There is plenty of choice for large gardens.

Many tree species can be kept small by coppicing, cutting back trees to within 15-30cm (6-12 in) of the ground every few years and allowing vigorous new growth. This gives a thicket of attractive stems and foliage. Ideally, you need several trees that can be coppiced in rotation so that there is always one tall specimen. Height can also be provided by a wall, fence or pole covered in climbing plants. Native honeysuckle and ivy are good for wildlife, but many exotic species also provide nectar, pollen, seeds or berries.

Shrub layer

Shrubs provide a framework beneath tree height and are a good source of berries, flowers and attractive foliage. Include some evergreens for winter cover and deciduous shrubs to give dappled shade.

Flower layer

Choose flowers that are shade tolerant or those that flower in early spring before the trees have put out their leaves. Many woodland wild flowers are ideal. Not only can they look attractive, but they provide nectar and pollen for insects at an important time of year.

Ground cover

The decaying material on a woodland floor harbours many insects. Use a mulch of leaf-mould, shredded prunings, woodchips or bark to re-create this condition.

A Climber Curtain

Nail blocks of wood a few centimetres thick onto your fence posts. The total distance between the surface of the fence and the outer faces of the blocks should be about 10cm (4in). Fit a few simple ledges across the blocks on which birds can nest. Stretch a latticework of wires between the outer faces of the blocks or put up a light trellis on which climbing plants can be trained. These form a green curtain to screen the wildlife.

27. January 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Organic Gardening | Tags: , | Comments Off on Wildlife Habitats : Woodland Edges


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