How to make a wildlife shelter

Do it:

Jan, Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov, Dec

Takes just:

an afternoon

If you've accumulated various cut branches and stems over the year, it's easy to turn them into a great habitat for insects, small mammals and roosting birds. Known as a dead hedge, it can make an attractive feature if you lay the branches in the same direction and add different coloured stems such as dogwood. The wood and leaves will rot down at different rates, and you can add more at any time. Here's how to make one.

You will need

Several sturdy poles

Long branches

Woody prunings

Fresh leaves

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Push or knock several sturdy poles firmly into the ground in two staggered rows. Leave a gap of about an arm's length between them, to be filled with prunings.

Lay the pieces of prunings sideways in the same direction, with the cut ends on top of each other, to create the base. Pile more branches and twigs on top.

Fill any gaps with leaves, which will slowly rot down, then pile on the rest of the stems, in the same direction. Top up with more material as you accumulate it all year round.

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Kate Bradbury

Kate Bradbury

You can create mini versions of these using smaller branches and twigs, which you can position at the back of ornamental borders. They will be unlikely to attract birds, but insects will take shelter among the decaying matter, and may even set up home there.

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