Birds are a gardener’s best friend as they keep slugs, snails and other insects from damaging plants. Not only that, but birds make gardens more interesting and beautiful, both to look at and to experience. The sound of birdsong makes spending time lounging on your lawn or playing with your pets even more enjoyable!
A healthy garden will attract birds naturally, but to increase the diversity of birds in your garden you can plant a range of different plants. A lot of the plants on our list ensure that there is food for birds all year around, making the perfect environment for them to thrive.
Plants for Bird Food
Lots of British birds love grass, so having a healthy lawn in your garden is a great place to start. Keep the grass thick by sowing new seed on areas that have become thin. Make sure you do this right and at the right time of year so the seeds germinate and grow without problems. Find out more about reseeding with Greensleeves!
Keep the soil from becoming compact with an annual aeration treatment — either hollow tine aeration or spiking. Not only does this improve drainage and moisture retention, keeping your grass healthy, but it also encourages worms to work through the soil. This is great for keeping the soil from becoming compact again, as well as providing tasty food for birds!
Flowering plants attract insects, which in turn attract birds. When choosing flowering plants for your garden, avoid plants which die in a year and opt instead for annual perennials. These plants attract more insects and also mean you don’t have to plant new bulbs or seeds every year!
Try: lavender, penstemons, salvias, catmint and teasel.
Rowan berries are poisonous to humans, but make fantastic food for birds. Try growing any kind of sorbus/mountain-ash tree in your garden to produce berries that range from bright orange to red, depending on the variety of plant. These are a fantastic way to attract birds.
Cotoneaster plants produce red berries that birds love, as well as plenty of shelter for hiding. They’re a great plant to grow as they’re very hardy, drought-resistant and will grow almost anywhere! With over 200 different types, you can get small shrub-sized varieties through to trees.
Holly plants are great for providing food for birds in winter. During the colder months, birds find it much more difficult to get enough food, so plants that provide winter berries are ideal for attracting birds year-round.
Sunflowers provide masses of seeds for hungry birds! Not only that, but they look really beautiful. Plant sunflowers in sunny patches and you might notice the head moving throughout the day as it follows the sun across the sky.
Many birds also love the seeds from thistle plants, particularly finches. Thistles are often seen as weeds, but this doesn’t have to be the case as they can look very beautiful. There are different varieties of thistles. Cirsium rivulare, for example, is a well behaved type of thistle that you could try.
Plants for Nesting
Cyprus trees – These come in a massive variety that range from dwarf to giant. They make great spaces for nesting.
Honeysuckle – Honeysuckles provide fantastic hiding and nesting places in their tangles branches and foliage! Their flowers also attract insects which make great food for birds. Some varieties of honeysuckle also produce fruit at certain times of year. They’re a great all-round plant for attracting birds.
Ivy – Common wild ivy attracts birds as many use it for shelter and nesting. Robins, for example, often use the base of old ivy plants to nest and raise their young.
Ivy can be a home for caterpillars and provides berries in the winter; it’s a great way to attract birds all year around. It’s important to keep an eye on ivy plants through so they don’t take over and damage walls in your garden.
Hedges – While fences can provide instant barriers, evergreen hedges are a fantastic alternative that encourages birds to visit or nest in your garden, even if they take a little longer to become established.
The very best hedges contain lots of different species of plant that each produce leaves and berries at different times of the year. This ensures that your hedge provides a habitat for birds year round.
There are a lot of varieties of plants you could choose to create your hedgerow including Leyland Cypress, Beech, Hawthorn or conifers.