Top tips for getting closer to nature in spring

Sally Barnes
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Whether the owner of a tiny balcony or a huge garden space, everyone can connect with nature and wildlife through simple steps to create a wilder environment in their patch.

At wildlife conservation charity, Wildwood Trust, we focus on conserving and protecting British wildlife past and present.

During the pandemic, many people relied on their daily walks and felt a stronger connection to nature than ever before. It’s widely considered that getting outside and being closer to nature has a positive impact on mental health, but how can we recreate that in our own spaces, and hold on to that feeling in our everyday lives, once society returns to normal?

Here are a selection of the best tips to encourage children to embrace nature at this time of year:

  • Build a home for nesting birds. Buy or build your own nest boxes to help wild birds raise this spring’s chicks. Hang them high and sheltered, where cats can’t reach them and enjoy seeing the next generation of feathered garden visitors grow up

  • Make a bug and wildlife hotel. Get the kids engaged in collecting piles of rocks, twigs and rotting wood in your garden to create shelter for everything from important insects like beetles and spiders to hedgehogs, toads and mice. This is a firm favourite with mini-explorers as it offers the chance to get their hands a bit dirty and see what they can spot

  • Create a hedgehog highway. Help hedgehogs in their nightly search for food by creating small holes in the base of fences and walls so they can move freely between gardens and allotments. 13cm by 13cm is sufficient. Make it fun for kids by making and setting up little signs saying things like ‘hedgehogs this way’ then seeing if you can spot one during an evening

  • Plant away for wildlife. Design your garden around wildlife, from flowers for bees and fruit trees and bushes for birds and butterflies, to hedges that can form protection and offer shelter. Many species can be planted in early spring which makes now the perfect time for a family planting day! Get the kids involved then spend the spring and summer seeing what you can spot, you can even create your own ‘wildlife-spotting checklists’ if you wanted

  • ‘Ugly is good’. The wilder and untamed your garden or space is, the more wildlife can thrive there. A little goes a long way, so even if you love a perfectly manicured garden, leaving just one area a little wild will have a huge impact on local wildlife, helping it to survive and thrive.

The joy of observing more wildlife in your garden or local park when you begin changing just a few things is so inspirational and gives you a profound feeling of wellbeing and purpose. If we all did just one small, positive thing, the positive impact on our local wildlife would be immense. 

Plus, it’s fun to get outside and connect with nature, it’s a chance to get muddy, build fun things and perhaps spot some unusual or new garden visitors as a result.

Sally Barnes is senior keeper at Wildwood Trust based in Kent.

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