The results of the Surrey Wildlife Trust wildlife garden survey have revealed an urgent need for more water for wildlife in Surrey gardens.
Adding wildlife ponds, mini container or bucket ponds, shallow water dishes and bird baths are vital for wildlife, especially during hot summer weather. One in five gardens had no water at all. Only one in five had a bucket pond and a third had a wildlife pond, ideally gardens need both of these.
Surrey gardens also need homes and shelter for wildlife. Less than one in five gardens had hedgehog homes, less than a third had solitary bee shelters, less than four out of ten gardens had an insect or bug hotel or hibernacula. In addition, only 44 per cent of gardens had mixed native hedging, which provide shelter for up to 130 species of wildlife such as hedgehogs, dormice, butterflies, bees, bugs and birds.
Joanna Foat, communications officer at Surrey Wildlife Trust, said: ‘Most people probably think of fountains, mirrors and cascades of water when you mention water features. But something as simple as a shallow water dish or bucket pond allows birds, mammals and insects to drink and bathe and is absolutely essential for life in hot weather.
‘With more than 20,000 hectares of gardens in Surrey, 12 per cent of the county, you can see how together, by taking a few small steps, we could make a huge difference and really help wildlife in Surrey.’
The survey showed that Surrey gardeners were best at providing food features in their gardens. With more than 60 per cent of people having bird feeders, fruit trees, nectar rich summer flowers, berry bearing shrubs and plants, herbs, a wild patch of weeds left to flower and early spring through to late autumn flowers. However, only 18 per cent left food out for hedgehogs and this beloved creature has declined by 90 per cent across the UK, so Surrey gardens could do more to help hedgehogs.
Encouragingly, more than 60 per cent of survey respondents used peat free compost, no pesticides, herbicides or weed killers, had a compost bin and rain butt.
Joanna Foat added: ‘Overall Surrey gardens scored 52 per cent, which means they had just over half of the features they could have in their garden for wildlife. So there’s plenty of room for improvement and year on year we’d love to see that score increase as people learn more about how they can help wildlife at home.’
The survey is still open and can be shared on social media and WhatsApp groups to encourage family, friends and neighbours to join in so they too can welcome more wildlife to their gardens and streets. The Trust also offers lots of wildlife gardening tips to help people create mini nature reserves in their gardens. There is also a special Facebook group for those who would like to discuss how to do things with other people.