Point One: Access & Egress:
Get Grace in your space!
It all starts here. Can Grace physically get in and out of your garden ? She loves to roam for food and friendship and so do her hoglets. She simply needs to be able to get in and out. You will need access for Grace - a grand entrance!
Access, access, access all the way - for hedgehog think 'edgehog , edgehog, edgehog', these prickly cuties nearly always go around the 'edge' and follow the boundaries so access in through those boundaries are essential for hedgehogs to forage and thrive.
- Even a six foot wooden fence can be Grace friendly. Simply cut a circular hole around four and half inches through the gravel board or fence panel itself. If your gravel board is concrete you will need some expert tools but it is doable! The hole in your fence should be roughly around the size of a CD or DVD (5 inches or 12cm across ) is perfect.
- Can Grace get under your gate? Grace can flatten herself so you may get away with a three inch gap under your gate, some hedgehogs have been known to get through a two inch gap with ease.
- Hedges give perfect access and dense hedges give great protection from predators and provide the perfect nesting & resting site. But don’t worry if you don’t have one of these we can still get Grace in your space.
- Can Grace get under or through your boundary?
- If you have a wooden gate you could cut out a section for Grace either in the gate or at the edge. It could be raised up at its hinges to provide that vital access or egress.
- Grace can still get in even if you have a solid boundary such as a brick, block or concrete wall. You can you drill a tunnel through your wall with a heavy duty ‘core drill’. You may need to hire the heavy duty drill and bits or simply find a Grace friendly builder. You don’t want to undermine the wall but it does create a rather personal and impressive entrance. You may be able to simply remove a brick from your wall for Grace. If you are planning a wall make sure you include Grace in your thoughts.
- Chain link may look like easy access but many hedgehogs get caught in these fences and perish. Once they have started to climb through they are committed, they cannot reverse as their spines trap them. You can simply create a space at the bottom cutting the wire and tying it back.
- If you have a metal gate you could cut a section out for Grace. Ornamental gates may look OK for Grace but make sure you have measured. Removing the bottom of one bar with an angle grinder may be enough but be careful those tools can hurt. In some cases it may still be possible to raise the hinges.
So, now Grace has access and egress across your boundary, let’s make sure she has some good food to eat.
Point Two: 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 local invertebrates. Grace needs these crunchy critters to keep healthy.
- Wildflowers can attract an array of bugs and they look pretty awesome too.
- Single bloom flowers are always preferred by insects as it is easy for them to access the pollen. Dog roses, Nasturtiums and poppies are great examples of bug magnets. Keep dandelions and common flowers for a plethora of insects to eat,. A weed is only a flower that grows where you don’t want it to. Weeds are beautiful and Grace wants them everywhere.
- Compost heaps provide perfect homes for lots of worms and other invertebrates that Grace will absolutely love. A compost heap could actually provide most of Graces food. Easy set up and gives you a place to put your hedge and grass cuttings and no trip to the dump. What could be easier?
- Woodpiles in the garden attract a multitude of invertebrates who will make it their home and they look very attractive dotted in amongst the flower beds. The piles can home much of the staple diet for Grace and can double up as her home too.
- Companion planting is a great way of protecting your vegetables and attracting good insects. Companion planting by definition is simply any plant that is purposefully planted next to another to enhance growth, beauty or flavour.
- Shrubby low dense borders that keep moisture in and have cover are great for both Grace and her favourite snacks
- Your own lawn can provide much food for a very hungry Grace. Why not cut your grass cut at different heights and see what mini beasts you get? Some like it tall and some like it short. A wild flower mosaic cut looks fantastic and means ‘Dad’ doesn’t have to mow weekly?
- Growing fruit trees and vegetables attract their own sets of bugs and Grace loves them all to 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.
Point Three: Nesting & Resting:
Create some awesome lodgings for our lovely 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 they are a great nesting site. Hoglets need to stay warm and toasty and compost heaps are naturally heated from the reaction of decaying plants. This temperature is so good it is also used by our wonderful grass snakes to hatch their eggs.
- Keep leaves in your garden for Grace to use for building a nest and to decompose for the bugs. Leaves are awesome worm food too. You can put leaves in your compost heap or in a large sized drain pipe or a large plant pot on its side for easy Grace access, they double up as good resting sites for a weary Grace traveling round your garden.
- The small space underneath your shed can provide the perfect dry, safe space for Grace to have her hoglets.
- Buy, build or adapt an existing hedgehog house. Call us for advice.
- The space underneath decking can be dry and very suitable as a des res for Grace.
- Greenhouses provide amazing 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. Most glaziers will cut you Grace size hole if you ask them nicely.
- Dense hedges and hedgerows are always a favourite nesting and resting place, clue is in the name!. If you have a hedgerow try cutting the tops and sides to allow the base to thicken out thus creating the perfect safe dense place for Grace and her family.
- 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 on the inside. This ideal place is bone dry and Grace can sort out her own interior.
So Grace is now in your garden and has a cool new home and lots of natural food but she still needs more, she needs to drink and she needs to be safe drinking.
Point Four: Drink or Drown:
Water is essential for Grace but is it safe?
- Why not provide a simple shallow dish with gravel in it. This enables it to stay topped up in the hot weather without too much evaporation and Grace can dig in the gravel for that vital water if you forget to top it up. The gravel makes any bowl stable and looks attractive too and can be planted with marginals plants for extra good looks.
- Large plant trays are a great source of water. 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.
- Ponds are a great place for all wildlife to drink. 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 she can climb out is very important and providing a ladder or escape route is essential. The ladder can be made of chicken wire and plants can be grown through it. Ladders and escape routes can look attractive and are a matter of life or death for Grace. A rock pile or stone slope will work in a pond to help her climb out. Grace needs water to drink and it’s why she came to climb into your pool in the first place so please make sure it's not her last drink!
- 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 the safety of humans and Grace.
So now we have access for Grace, food for Grace, somewhere for Grace to sleep and safe water for her to drink, but there is one more area you need to look at and that's health and safety ....
Point Five: Do or Die:
Make your space Grace safe and remove the killers
There are many everyday objects that will be hazardous to Grace in a garden. Think five inch toddler with attitude, speed and an ability to climb.
- Please check your borders and long grass prior to strimming and mowing as hedgehogs do rest and nest in open sites and in borders. If the grass is very long, it is advisable to cut it in sections.
- Check that all your drain covers are secure as Grace can fall in and will be unable to clamber out. She will simply fall further down the slippery pipe and die.
- Netting of any kind can pose a hazard. Grace can easily get tangled and caught in it. Her spines make it impossible for her to move backwards once trapped in the netting and the constant movement to untangle herself gets her well and truly stuck. So please make sure all nets including football nets, cricket nets, tennis nets and planting nets are at least 8 inches above the ground so Grace can go about her business underneath them without getting caught.
- If you have a cattle grid simply put a ramp in it for Grace to climb out on. You can make a ramp or put a step inside, so long as she has an escape route she will be safe.
- Don’t leave garden chemicals out in open containers in case a thirsty Grace mistakes poison for a drink
- Keep your ponds topped up so that they don’t create a watery grave for Grace. Make sure that the pond has exits on the edges for a stressed Grace if she falls or gets knocked in. She will always swim round the edge of the pond to get out - think ‘edgehog!
- 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.
- 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.
- Biocides use natures natural controls. Lacewing larvae are commercially available and they eat aphids so it's a win win.
- Don’t eradicate slugs and snails get Grace on patrol. Broken eggshells crushed around the base of target plants slow the slippery suckers down. Fine gravel and copper strips have all been credited with being successful.
- Wool pellets may have some success and please do share any tips you may have with us.
- Rat traps are not host specific so will trap and maim Grace. She can lose limbs and get stuck to glue traps. Its a slow and painful death.
- 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. Bonfires are particularly attractive to hedgehogs; a big pile of branches, leaves and bits of wood looks like the perfect place to spend the winter. The inside is dry and warm - they are unaware of the incendiary nature of the bonfire! The best way - and one recommended by those knowledgeable boy scouts and wildlife alike - is to build a bonfire on the day of lighting. Storing your wood and cardboard separately under tarpaulins until the big day and moving it to build. This is the safest way to ensure your wood is dry and any hibernating animals are safe. If your fire has already been built it may be possible to check, but the hedgehogs camouflage makes it very hard to see in the dark amongst the wood and leaves. You could try and check with a broom handle, gently lifting the wood pile whilst paying particular attention to the central/middle area, this will soon reveal if you have a hedgehog present. Listen too - hedgehogs will sometimes ‘hiss’ if disturbed so use this to locate them.Larger bonfires for school or public displays are sometimes built in advance. The most practical way of keeping hedgehogs out of large bonfires is to run chicken wire and wooden stakes - around 1 meter high - around the entire bonfire. The top end of the mesh must be rolled out to prevent a climbing hedgehog from entering. Still, the safest way is to build it on the night. If you are a local school or organisation having a bonfire in the Surrey Heath area, our #AmazingGrace team will check it for you free of charge. We can talk to the children and will even bring along some of our spiky guests to show you what we are looking for.
- Keep an eye on grumpy dogs and keep them on a lead late at night to prevent them from disturbing Grace and the neighbours.
- Cars kill so please be vigilant when driving for 5 inch Graces!
- Shed squatters. If your shed, man cave, green house, wendy house & summer house door is left open by mistake 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.
By following our charter you are helping your area to become hedgehog friendly, so now tell us all about your Grace space and get a Hogstar on the map. Tell us about the actions you have taken from ‘Graces Five Point Charter’ by clicking here. Click Here