Ok so you want Grace in your garden, well here is 'Graces Five Point Charter' and it tells you some of the actions you can take to attract Grace and her spiky friends.See how many you can do. Take action NOW.
1. Access ‘n’ Egress - Get Grace in your space!
It all starts here: can she physically get in? You will need access for Grace - a grand entrance!
- A hole in your fence the size of a CD (5 inches or 12cm across) is perfect.
- Can she get under your gate? Grace can flatten herself so you may get away with a three inch gap under your gate.
- Can she get under your fence? If not, put in a tunnel or a hole.
- Can you drill a tunnel through your wall or put pipe for her to go through under your fence?
- You could remove a brick from your wall for access.
- Use a concrete hollow brick for access.
- If you have a metal gate you could cut off a section for Grace to get in and out.
- Build a bridge for access.
- Use a five inch drainpipe for a longer tunnel and to stop cat access.
- If you live in Surrey Heath, we can organise to cut a hole in your fence or wall so please contact us. Send us pictures of your access or call us for advice.
So, now Grace has a space in your garden, let’s make sure she has some good food to eat.
2. Slugs & Bugs: Bump up the invertebrate count in your space
- Growing native vegetables and plants around your garden is the best way to bring in the invertebrates Grace needs.
- Wildflowers attract an array of bugs and provide food for Grace. Single bloom flowers are always preferred by insects as it is easy to access the pollen. Dog roses, Nasturtiums and poppies are great examples of bug magnets.
- Keep dandelions and common flowers for insects to eat - a weed is only a flower that grows where you don’t want it to and Grace wants them everywhere.
- Compost heaps provide lots of food - worms and other invertebrates will live there. A compost heap could provide most of Graces food.
- Woodpiles in the garden attract a multitude of invertebrates: it can form their staple diet and double up as their home too.
- Companion planting is a great way of protecting your vegetables and also attracting insects. What grows together goes together: simple rules that helps Grace.
- Lawns provide much food. Grass cut at different heights is preferable - why not consider a mosaic cut?
- Shrubby, low, dense borders that keep moisture and have cover are great for both Grace and invertebrates (her favourite snacks).
- Growing fruit trees and vegetables will attract lots of bugs that Grace can feed on.
Now Grace can get in and out of your space and she has food so now we need to make sure she can bring up a family there.
3. Nesting & Resting: Create some awesome lodgings for Grace
There are many places for hedgehogs to nest and rest in a back garden and size really doesn’t matter. You may have some of these in your space already or are able to provide them -
- Compost heaps can not only provide food but also warmth for Grace and are a great nesting site. Hoglets need to stay warm and compost heaps are usually naturally heated from the reaction of the decaying plants. This temperature is so good it is also used by grass snakes to hatch their eggs.
- Keep leaves in your garden for Grace to use for building a nest and to decompose - they are awesome worm food. You can put leaves in your compost heap or in a large sized drain pipe or a flower pot; all good resting sites for a weary Grace.
- The space underneath a shed can provide a dry, safe space for Grace to have her hoglets.
- Buy, build or adapt an existing hedgehog house. Call us for advice.
- Large plant pots on their side are often used by hedgehogs to sleep in.
- The space underneath decking can be dry and very suitable for Grace.
- Greenhouses provide a good resting place but doors need to be left open so that Grace can come and go and not get too hot or cold. Removing a lower pane of glass in the green house or cutting a hole in the wood will allow her to get in and out.
- Dense hedges and hedgerows were always a favourite nesting and resting place. If you have a hedgerow, only cut the tops and sides to allow the base to thicken out thus creating the perfect safe place for Grace.
- Sheds, man caves, wendy houses & summer houses may have nesting hedgehogs in already. You can create access through the wall and have a hedgehog box inside.
So Grace is now in your garden and has a cool new home and food but she still needs more, she needs to drink and needs to be safe drinking.
4. Drink or Drown: Water is essential for Grace but is it safe?
- Grace needs water to drink, so why not provide a shallow dish? We use terracotta dishes with gravel in - this enables it to stay topped up in the hot weather and Grace can dig in the gravel for water. Large plant trays are also a great source. You can oversize your plant pot trays but make sure there are no chemicals in the pots soil or you will be creating liquid poison.
- Grace is a great swimmer but cannot tread water for long, so she needs to be able to get out of your pond. Slippery sides of some ponds can prevent her from climbing out. Keeping ponds topped up so they don’t become wells that she can get trapped in is important and providing a ladder or escape route is essential. The ladder can be made out of chicken wire and plants can be grown through it. A rock pile or stone slope will work too.
- Grace needs water to drink and it’s why she came to climb into your pool in the first place. Swimming pools can become a watery grave, so make sure that the cover seals the pool and doesn’t just float on top for Grace to slip down the side. You can put a towel in one corner under a heavy, strong paving slab so Grace can climb out. If your pool is isolated, please check regularly and use winter sealed covers for human and Grace safety.
- Bridges can be used to allow Grace to climb out of any water hazard to keep her safe.
So Grace is now in your garden, she’s nesting, she’s eating and she’s drinking…so what else can you do, how safe is she really?
5. Do or Die: Make your space Grace safe and remover the killers
There are many every day objects that will kill Grace and her family so please take care.
- Don’t use pesticides as they kill the vital food that Grace needs to eat and they can also kill Grace herself. Poison is poison after all.
- Please check your borders and long grass prior to strimming and mowing as hedgehogs do rest in the semi open, especially young ones. We see a high percentage of strimmed and mown hedgehogs coming into the rescue and many of their injuries are too serious to treat.
- Check that all your drain covers are secure as hedgehogs can fall in and will be unable to clamber out and simply fall further down and die.
- Netting of any kind can pose a hazard. Grace can easily get tangled and caught in it, so please make sure football nets, cricket nets, tennis nets and planting nets are at least 8 inches above the ground so Grace can go underneath without getting caught.
- If you have a cattle grid, put a ramp in it for Grace to climb out on.
- Don’t leave garden chemicals or anti-freeze out in open containers in case a thirsty Grace tries to drink it.
- If you are turning your compost heap with a fork, please check for a sleeping Grace so she doesn’t get stabbed with a fork prong.
- Keep your ponds topped up and make sure they have easy exits to stop Grace drowning.
- Rat traps are not host specific so can trap and maim Grace. She can lose limbs and get stuck to glue traps.
- Bonfires are dangerous for Grace as she will be sleeping when you light them - always store wood away from the fire site, and then move it and burn immediately. It will be very hard to find a hedgehog just by looking.
- Keep an eye on grumpy dogs and keep them on a lead late at night to prevent them from disturbing Grace.
- Cars kill so please be vigilant when driving.
- If your garden door or shed door is open, please check before you close it just in case hedgehogs are resting inside.
- Use your wheelie bins and keep rubbish off the ground so Grace doesn’t get caught or nest in it.
- Rubber bands and ring pulls are dangerous to Grace and especially her hoglets so please dispose of them safely.
- Polystyrene containers, tin cans and cups can trap hedgehogs as they get caught on their spines when they try to get out - please make sure that these items are not left lying around for your night time visitor.
So… Grace can now access your garden, she can nest in peace , she can eat, she can drink safely and now you are hazard free. You are helping your area to become hedgehog friendly.
Tell us about the actions you have taken from ‘Graces Five Point Charter’ to make your space Grace safe!