A hedgehog climbs a thick branch.
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Garden

It’s so easy to create a biotope in your own garden

Susanne Loacker

Many people imagine a biotope as a small pond or pool. But there is much more to the term: biotopes are habitats for animals or plants that are delimited to a greater or lesser extent. Not all of them require a lot of space. We present seven types of biotopes that you can create in your own garden.

1. A pile of stones for lizards

Simply leave construction waste lying around? It sounds untidy but is actually a paradise for slowworms and lizards. Deliberately piling up large stones into heaps serves the same purpose. These stones give lizards the chance to escape to safety when the neighbor’s cat is on the prowl again.

A lizard sits on a large stone, illuminated by the sun, and stretches its head up into the air.

Lizards love rocks or piles of stones that have been heated by the sun.

2. A nettle hedge for butterfly caterpillars

These plants are actually regarded as weeds: nettles, bird’s foot trefoil and wild carrot. But if you let them grow, they can be food for many butterfly caterpillars. A small corner is enough, you can go ahead and weed the rest of the garden.

3. A wetland for newts and dragonflies

A garden pond is a habitat for many animals: freshwater fish, frogs, dragonflies, newts – and with a bit of luck, one day a kingfisher will come hunting in front of your door. The pond can be sealed with clay, concrete or pond foil on the ground, and should be at least 60 centimeters deep. Ideally, you should be able to collect water from slopes and drain it off again, so that the water in the pond remains clear and clean even at high summer temperatures. Animals will settle not only in the water, but also on the shores and in the shallower areas.

A small, overgrown part of the garden is almost entirely covered with water lilies, some of which have blossoming pink flowers.

A garden pond doesn’t have to be very large to provide a habitat for many animals. Frogs like to sit on lily pads in the spring.

4. A sandy surface for earth bees

Sandy soil is particularly suitable in southern locations as a substrate for hardy cacti and other succulent plants. Sand is also a good nesting place for ground-nesting bees such as the furrow or sand bee.

5. A wildflower meadow for butterflies

A third of the butterflies native to Switzerland are considered endangered. Uniform lawns and exotic plants in gardens are partly to blame. Butterflies love grassland. You can attract more butterflies to your garden by planting honeysuckle, wild marjoram or carnations. Butterflies are also grateful for sweet treats from the kitchen, for example sugar water or overripe fruit.

A light gray-black patterned butterfly sits on a purple flower.

Butterflies love flowers, but also ripe fruit or sugar syrup.

6. A pile of leaves for hedgehogs

No need to get rid of cut branches? That’s convenient. Leave branches and sticks lying around – the hedgehogs will be happy in the fall. If the wood remains lying around for long enough, it is also possible that the violet carpenter bee will settle, a completely peaceful, beautiful insect. Heaps of leaves hold best if you pile up branches loosely and fix them with a few stakes.

Hedgehogs will be happy if you leave a pile of leaves around in the fall.

A hedgehog is sitting in a heap of leaves but is still easy to spot.

7. A pile of cuttings for fireflies

If you leave some cuttings heaped up at the edge of your lawn, with a bit of luck the fermentation heat will attract fireflies. But make sure there is no lighting in your garden at night, as this can easily cause flying males to lose their sense of direction. If you are lucky enough to have fireflies, avoid fertilizers if possible and don’t mow close to the ground.

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