February can see the first few changes in the garden, signs that new seasons are on their way. It may still be cold and we see unsettled weather but many species will suddenly become more active, emerging from hibernation, foraging for much-needed food supplies and even sightings of courtship displays in anticipation of spring.  Bird song will increase dramatically as they begin courtship, frogs spawn usually begins to appear this month in ponds and hedgehogs may even begin to make an appearance after a long hibernation. So there’s plenty of wildlife that can benefit from your garden!

Plant Bare-Root Shrubs

February is one of the last months you can purchase and plant bare-root shrubs, trees, hedging and fruit trees. Bare-rooted specimens are much cheaper than potted plants but they need to be planted whilst dormant (winter) to ensure they are ready for the upcoming growing season. Shrubs, trees and fruiting hedgerows are essential for wildlife, so if your garden is lacking, I’d recommend considering some of the following to benefit wildlife:

Hedgerows  Deciduous Shrubs Evergreen Shrubs Small Trees

Dog RoseRosa canina 

Wild PlumPrunus domestica

Guelder RoseViburnum opulus

HawthornCrataegus monogyna

HazelCorylus avellana 

Cotoneaster sp.

BuddleiaBuddleia davidii

Common Dogwood - Cornus sanguinea

Guelder RoseViburnum opulus

Spindle treeEuonymus europaeus

FirethornPyracantha coccinea 

PrivetLigustrum vulgare (grown as a shrub, not hedge)

HollyIlex aquifolium  

YewTaxus baccata

Eating AppleMalus domesticus 

Strawberry Tree - Arbutus unedo

Crab Apple - Malus sylvestris

Alder BuckthornFrangula alnus

HazelCorylus avellana

If any hedges are in need of a trim, now is a good time to do so as most valuable berries and fruits have been eaten or dropped from the shrubs and it is too early for birds to be nesting inside the hedgerow. You can also make use of any perennials you already have by lifting well-established plants to divide and replant.

Create a Wildlife Pond

With ground conditions usually pretty soft and damp during this month, it makes it a great time to finally create that wildlife pond you’ve always wanted. Ponds offer a valuable resource for almost all garden wildlife, absorbing a large amount of carbon from our environment and quite simply offering an attractive feature to any garden. Whether you have a small or large green space, a pond can be adapted to suit. We’d always recommend you dig and shape your pond so you can allow for a shallow access point for wildlife, a range of depths for suitable planting and shelter spots and a selection of native aquatic plants. A general rule is the larger the pond, the wider the variety of wildlife you can attract but don’t be put off, even a relatively small container pond can attract a great deal.