Underneath the arches!

Homes for Wildlife

Homes for Wildlife
If you love the creatures in your garden, you'll love our Homes for Wildlife project. This is the place to ask and answer questions about making your backyard wildlife-friendly.

Gardening for wildlife

Follow the adventures of Adrian Thomas, our wildlife gardening expert, and be inspired to create your own wildlife haven on your doorstep. Adrian posts here every Monday and Friday without fail, so make it a date and drop by!

Underneath the arches!

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There is one place in my garden that I'm itching to look every day but I have to be really disciplined. "No, Adrian - once a week and once a week only!"

That thing that lures me so much is my Wildlife Sunbeds. These are my sheets of black, corrugated roofing material, laid in a number of different places, and they are one of the wildlife wonders of the garden.

What makes them so good are five big reasons:

1) The bitumen covering and dark colour mean that it soaks up the heat of even weak, milky sunshine, meaning that cold-blooded creatures can soak it up and get themselves going in the morning (I could do with that myself).

2) Because it is roofing material, it is waterproof, so anything living under it can keep out of the cold rain.

3) But equally, it is so dark and shady under there that at least the atmosphere is humid rather than bone-dry.

4) The corrugations mean that there are effectively multiple tunnels for creatures to use.

And 5) It is one of the few really safe places in the garden where creatures can escape from predators such as cats.

So what kind of wildlife can you find under these wonder-sheets?

Well, reptiles love them - it is THE place in the garden to find Slow-worms, those wonderful legless lizards that look as if made from bronze.

In my garden, my sheets are where Short-tailed Field Voles make their nests. If you ever want to see a rodent that is adorable, it is these fellas.

And these are their little igloos of dried grass.

But even if all you turn up is just a millipede or some other minibeast curiosity, it is like lifting the lid on a different world. The important thing is just having a quick glimpse for a few seconds, before returning the startled inhabitants bacvk to their dark, warm, humid world of safety.

And given that roofing materials are something you can get down your local DIY store, that's why we've made it our  'Activity of the Month' for June. You can find all the instructions you need to make your own here on our Giving Nature a Home pages.

And if the roll-call of Sunbed Creatures hasn't quite done it for you, I bet it would for your kids/grandkids/nephews & nieces!

  • I'm on the case!

  • I've got mine on the top of the compost heap, it is filled with fresh horse manure and straw bedding which provides an amazing amount of heat as it rots. The roofing sheets keep the compost from getting too wet plus it provides the perfect environment for the grass snakes to breed. We find it very difficult not to peak every time we pass but we work a strict 'once a week for a few seconds' regime.

    Some of our Field voles live beneath the bird feeders. I love them because they are not nocturnal and put on a fascinating show all day long. They never come into the house or cause damage in the garden.