Towns and gardens

Credits: istock

Built up areas and gardens might at first sight seem unlikely places for finding wildlife. Surprisingly they can provide homes for some of our most spectacular wildlife, from city peregrines to urban otters.

Gardens often support higher population densities of birds such as blackbirds, dunnocks and song thrushes than the wider countryside. Foxes, badgers and hedgehogs are all at home in our towns and gardens. Garden ponds provide refuges for frogs, common toads, newts and even grass snakes, and swifts, house martins and pipistrelle bats make our homes and buildings their breeding sites. Other wildlife, such as brown rats and house mice, may be less welcome, but have long thrived in urban areas.


Some birds, such as herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls, have declined at their wild coastal breeding sites but are increasing their numbers in towns and cities. Even disused industrial wasteland can be fantastically rich in wildlife from bee orchids to rare minibeasts. Making your garden wildlife friendly can really benefit wildlife. For example house sparrows, song thrushes, dunnocks and starlings have all declined in the countryside, and are species of high conservation concern. They can benefit from simple actions to provide food and breeding habitats in our gardens.


Growing the right garden flowers will attract bumblebees and butterflies. Buddleia, hebe, red valerian, rosemary, marjoram and red currant are useful nectar providers. Street trees and urban parks also provide wildlife habitats.

Growing in your garden!

If you want tips on what to grow in your garden, take a look at Ellis Wakefield's blog post! Full of practical tips and advice, growing has never been so easy! Have a look here

There's also lots of advice on our Wild About Gardens webpage. Have fun! 




Did you know?

There are estimated to be more than two million garden ponds in the UK and these are fantastic habitats for frogs and newts – vital now for these species as many countryside ponds have been filled in.

Wildlife to look out for:


Birds are amongst the most beloved of our garden wildlife. Feeding the birds brings us closer to nature, and there's a good chance you'll see any of these in your very own back garden: Blackbird, song thrush, house sparrow, starling, collared dove, greenfinch, goldfinch, woodpigeon, dunnock, great tit, blue tit, wren and robin.



Many mammals have learnt to adapt to our towns and gardens; keep a look out for: grey squirrel, fox, hedgehog, house mouse, common pipistrelle bats, brown rat, muntjac deer, bank vole, common shrew.

There are lots of ways you can help mammals in your back garden. From building hedgehog homes, to creating a pond!


Plants are not only beautiful, they also encourage pollinators, such as bees, to come to our gardens. Commonly, you may find common poppy, Canadian fleabane, yarrow, rosebay willowherb, elder, oxford ragwort, thistles and even bee orchids.  To make your garden more wildlife friendly, and get advice about what you could grow, take a look at our Wild About Gardens website, which is our partnership with RHS! 



Not only are minibeasts fascinating to watch, they're also essential for so many reasons. They're pollinators and they provide a food source to the other wildlife that inhabit our gardens. You can find butterflies, such as large white, small white, small tortoiseshell, red admiral and painted lady; ladybirds, honeybees, bumblebees, wasps, hoverflies, migrant hawker dragonflies, ants, spiders, woodlice, craneflies (daddy longlegs), moths to name but a few!


There's so many things you can do to help encourage wildlife into your garden, and also to help you to understand and appreciate the wildlife on your doorstep! Here's a small selection - click on the images to download! To see even more activity sheets, take a look here.

Spot it!