Make space for nature in your life this autumn
Many of us spent more time outdoors and experienced mental health benefits from spending time in nature during lockdown. As well as better sleep, being fitter and reduced anxiety, getting outdoors can reduce your risk of chronic health conditions and improve your immune system.
Do one thing and follow our top tips to help yourself and nature.
Be a lazy gardener
Allow vegetation to dieback naturally, mow less, and leave twigs, leaves and even old upturned plant pots as these can provide a home for insects. Leave seedheads as these can provide a food source for birds and a home for insects.
Hedge not fence
Hedgerows offer a habitat for wildlife that fences can never match. Now is a good time to plant hedges and trees before it gets too cold. Also consider planting spring flowering bulbs in autumn, providing pollen for queen bumblebees coming out of hibernation next spring.
Love a compost heap
If you have one, try not to disturb it until at least spring time, as many creatures hibernate and take shelter here.
Help local birds
Erect bird houses and feeders, clean out existing ones and keep feeders regularly topped up. Other animals and insects also use the houses for shelter. If possible try to create a regular feeding schedule, and remember to provide water too. According to the British Trust for Ornithology many garden birdwatchers provide black sunflower seeds and sunflower hearts. Other suggestions include quality peanuts, nyjer seed and high-energy seed mixes.
As well as frogs and toads a pond can attract newts, dragonflies, birds and much more. A pond doesn’t have to be a big outlay, even using an old washing up bowl of water or a deep saucer of water on a windowsill can help. A prolonged freeze can mean problems for fish and hibernating frogs and newts. Now is a great time to remove any debris and float a tennis ball on the surface to prevent it from freezing over.
If you have fruit trees or hedges in your garden or local greenspace, leave the fallen fruit or berries for wildlife, stand back and watch the local wildlife lap it up. If supply is plentiful have a go yourself and try a bit of foraging.
Collect food scraps
Pop any bits suitable to feed birds and other wildlife into a food scraps tub. Bruised or overly-soft fruit can also be left out for badgers, foxes and birds. Cut the fruit in half and leave it on the grass or spike it on a tree branch.
Make a difference
Submit sightings of birds, butterflies, frogs, plants and much more, or report invasive non native species. It's really easy and fun for all - plus many surveys can be done via your smart phone. You really can make a difference.
Most of us want our kids to spend more time outdoors. Try a nature hunt, collect leaves or conkers for an autumn masterpiece, make a bug hotel, or simply look out a window and really notice the seasonal changes. Download plant or bird ID apps to help learning.
Many of us discovered local walks, paths and parks during lockdown. Greenspaces can be great for taking a breather, walking dogs, enjoying family time, and for outdoor learning. There's plenty of wildlife to see. Stop, listen and enjoy a mindful minute.
It's good for you
In our recent lockdown survey, many of us reported health and wellbeing benefits after spending time outdoors. We de-stress, relax and unwind, feel energised and revitalised and our physical health is improved. Healthy people need healthy nature. By protecting nature, nature protects us.