Make space for nature text accompanied by illustrations of a blackbird, ladybird and frog

Make space for nature in your life

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.

Dor beetle on a pile of leaves

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.

A tree sparrow chick resting on top of a garden hedge

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.

Hedgehog sitting amongst yellow, red and orange autumn leaves

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.

Provide water

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.

Bramble berries covered in frost. ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

Natural larder

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.

A female blackbird (Turdus merula) eating a windfall apple

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.

Phone camera screen focused on green leaf plant

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. 

Horse chestnut conker and leaves

Learn outdoors

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. 

Family walking at Dunardry near Crinan, Argyll and Stirling Area.

Go local 

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.

Young girl jumping into pile of autumn leaves. ©beckyduncanphotographyltd/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

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.