Branch out and build a log pile

Activity time:
1-2 hours
Difficulty level:
Suitable for:
Small garden, Large garden, Neighbourhood
To help:
Frogs, toads & newts, Creepy crawlies, Fungi, Birds

Use old, dead logs to create an inviting home and feeding ground for insects, toads, newts and bees.

You won’t see much going on at first, as these creatures like to hide in the dark. If you turn one of the logs over in the day, you can watch plenty of creepy-crawlies scurrying away out of the light.


At night, look for woodlice, snails and wood mice emerging from shady woodpiles.


If you’ve made a log pile in the sun, look for solitary bees seeking nestholes.

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What you will need

  • Old logs
  • Branches 
  • 'Brash' (spindly prunings)

RSPB Pocket Nature: Insects and Spiders

Profiles of over 700 species of insects and spiders.

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Step by step guide

  1. Collect your dead wood. It’s best to get your dead wood from your own garden each time you do any pruning or lopping. You can also see if friends and neighbours have any going spare. If you get really stuck, you can buy dead wood from a local tree surgeon. But don't just wander into a local wood and help yourself! 

  2. Where to put your dead wood? You can put it just about anywhere in your garden, but it will attract different wildlife in different places. 

    If you put it somewhere shady, it’s likely to rot more quickly. Fungi are likely to arrive and mosses may grow.

    Put the wood in the sun, however, and the wood will turn dry and hard. This is how solitary bees, who investigate old beetle holes, and wasps, who ‘harvest’ (chew) wood to build their nests, like it. 

  3. Use large logs for climbing plants. Why not use your best pieces of wood and stand them in your flower border? 

    The more places you have dead wood, the greater the variety of bugs and minibeasts you’ll attract to your garden.

  4. How to arrange your wood. You can just pile the wood up, higgledy-piggledy, for that rustic look. Or stack it neat and tidily – nature won't mind. Some creatures like dead wood that is buried. So you can dig a hole and start your pile underground, so that it’s like an iceberg with some hidden below the surface. 

    Get creative – there are endless possibilities for your designs.

    If you’re feeling really artistic, create interesting patterns with your dead wood. We want to see your ideas! So share your pictures of your finished log pile.

    And for help identifying which wee beasties have moved in, check out our handy identification guide.

  5. Sprinkle with earth or brash. You can use the soil you excavated on the top or place small twigs to give reptiles somewhere to hide – they like the intricate maze this creates. And some birds, like dunnocks and wrens, will nest in the tangle.
Brash pile for nesting
Collecting small wood

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