Spring gardening: Helping hedgehogs

Blog post by Helen Baczkowska on 07 May, 2019
As spring and summer unfold, many of us enjoy time in our garden and gardens can be a haven for wildlife as well as for people. Hedgehogs are often very dependent on networks of gardens in villages and towns in Norfolk and a little hedgehog-friendly gardening goes a long way to helping this vulnerable species.

Whatever the size of your garden, there is always something you can do for hedgehogs – here’s a few handy tips:
Water – Spells of dry weather can be disastrous for wildlife and the simplest way to help is to keep a shallow dish or bowl of water in your garden for hedgehogs and other species to have a drink.

If you have space for a pond, however small, you will find it a magnet for wildlife, but make sure hedgehogs can climb out by having a ramp or sloping sides.

Fences – No single garden is large enough for a hedgehog population or can offer everything they need. Your garden is part of a local network of gardens and habitats hedgehogs use, so make sure they can get through fences or walls easily. A simple hole the size of a CD will do the job.

Best of all – see if you can join other local gardeners to make sure hedgehogs have lots of connecting gardens and that everyone has a little of the habitat they need. For more information, check out https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/.

Log piles, leaves and hedgehog homes – Hedgehogs need places to sleep in the day, to nest with their young and to make into a cosy bed for hibernation. Hedgehog homes can be bought in garden centres or on line and need a quiet, sheltered corner, perhaps in bushes or under a hedge. A cheaper, rustic version is a pile of logs that hedgehogs can burrow under – this has the advantage of being a wonderful home for insects too, some of which will end up as dinner for the hedgehog! Replenish the logs as they rot over the years.

Piles of dry leaves for bedding are also useful and if you have piled up leaves for burning or composting, take care! Hedgehogs might hide in them (or in your garden compost heap), so check before you move them, burn them or turn with a garden fork.

Daisies, by David North

Daisies, by David North

Wild flowers and wild corners – Wild flowers make a beautiful addition to any garden and will encourage insects and birds. Wild flowers such as foxgloves look lovely in flowerbeds, but a small area of meadow or even a patch of lawn left a little longer with buttercups and daisies, is even better. You will need to cut the meadow when the flowers start to die back and then rake the cuttings up.

Many gardeners have a spring and autumn tidy up – this can remove nesting or hibernation sites for hedgehogs and reduces the amount of insects in the garden, as many species need a place to hibernate. Pick a corner of your garden and leave it as a quiet place for wildlife.

Careful with the strimmer! – Hedgehogs will not run away from the sound of a mower or strimmer – check before you strim or mow tall grass to avoid causing horrific injuries or death. Single hedgehogs can be moved (wearing gloves!), but moving a hedgehog family is more complicated and they should be left undisturbed.

Avoid netting and clear up litter – Hedgehogs are prone to becoming tangled or stuck in litter – polystyrene cups, plastic and elastic bands are all common offenders. If you need to net birds off fruit, vegetables or lawn seed, use a rigid structure or a thick cordage and keep it taut. Sports and garden netting should be tied up or stored inside when not in use.

Helen Baczkowska is a Conservation Officer at NWT.
[Header image by Dave Kilbey]
Share this

Latest Blog Posts

Corncrake at Thorpe Marshes Corncrake at Thorpe Marshes
by Chris Durdin on 29 Jun, 2020
Norwich Nature Notes – June Norwich Nature Notes – June
by Roger and Jenny Jones and Jon Shutes on 23 Jun, 2020
Blyth's reed warbler Blyth's reed warbler
by NWT on 12 Jun, 2020
Norwich Nature Notes – May Norwich Nature Notes – May
by Roger and Jenny Jones on 21 May, 2020
Thorpe Marshes: A refuge in lockdown Thorpe Marshes: A refuge in...
by Chris Durdin on 06 May, 2020
Random Acts of Wildness Random Acts of Wildness
by Helen Baczkowska on 04 May, 2020
Deciphering the dawn chorus Deciphering the dawn chorus
by Nick Acheson on 30 Apr, 2020
Norwich Nature Notes Norwich Nature Notes
by Roger and Jenny Jones on 21 Apr, 2020
Incredible insects Incredible insects
by Tom Hibbert on 08 Apr, 2020
Working from home Working from home
by Helen Baczkowska on 23 Mar, 2020
Crafty Creations Crafty Creations
by Maya Riches (guest author) on 05 Mar, 2020
Signs of spring at Thorpe Marshes Signs of spring at Thorpe M...
by Chris Durdin on 27 Feb, 2020
Notes from the Wild Notes from the Wild
by Nick Morritt on 14 Feb, 2020
Volunteering at the Raptor Roost Volunteering at the Raptor ...
by Maya Riches on 11 Feb, 2020
Identifying dabbling ducks Identifying dabbling ducks
by The Wildlife Trusts on 29 Jan, 2020
Three swans a-swimming … on the path! Three swans a-swimming … on...
by Chris Durdin on 17 Dec, 2019
Rewilding Norfolk: Wild thinking and wild ideas (Part 3) Rewilding Norfolk: Wild thi...
by David North on 07 Dec, 2019
Rewilding Norfolk: Wild thinking and wild ideas (Part 2) Rewilding Norfolk: Wild thi...
by David North on 30 Nov, 2019
A wet day in November A wet day in November
by Chris Durdin on 29 Nov, 2019
Rewilding Norfolk: Wild thinking and wild ideas Rewilding Norfolk: Wild thi...
by David North on 23 Nov, 2019
A season of engagement at NWT A season of engagement at NWT
by Georgie Lake on 12 Nov, 2019
25 years of support 25 years of support
by Ellen Kinsley  on 09 Nov, 2019
What tangled webs we weave What tangled webs we weave
by Robert Morgan on 31 Oct, 2019
October at NWT Thorpe Marshes October at NWT Thorpe Marshes
by Chris Durdin on 29 Oct, 2019