Wildlife can be enticed into the garden by providing a variety of habitats and sources of food. Ideally, the garden should contain a woodland area, a wild flower meadow and a pond, all features that can be adapted to fit into a small wildlife garden successfully. Make the most of the conditions that prevail in your garden. For example, a poor soil is ideal for growing a wild flower meadow, while a damp, shady area will suit many woodland plants.
Other good habitats include a pond and a dry stone wall or a pile of logs. You need plants that will supply pollen, nectar, berries and seeds. Wild flowers will also encourage many small creatures. Give structure to the garden with a natural stone path set in grass or a forest bark path winding through a grove of trees.
A slightly raised seating area will give a view over the wildlife garden. Surround it with a planting of tall shrubs so that it will offer opportunities for watching small creatures as they move around in your garden.
You can apply the same ground rules for the garden of this type of garden as with any other: creating well-proportioned garden space, focal points, areas of interest and varied planting. A sunny flowerbed is the perfect place for growing some of the old cornfield weeds such as corncockle, corn marigold, cornflowers and poppies. A mixture of poppies alone makes a really spectacular sight in summer.
If you have a fairly large garden, you might like a central meadow with wild flowers and grass seed appropriate to the soil type. Choose a part of the garden that has rather poor soil if possible. Unlike most garden plants, wild flowers need soil with low fertility. This will help to restrict the more vigorous grasses so that the wild flowers have a chance to compete. Remove any turf and topsoil and replace it with subsoil.
Buy an inexpensive kit for testing the soil so that you know its pH, and buy a mixture of seeds that will grow well on that. There are several seed companies selling appropriate mixtures. The plants should come into flower at roughly the same time, either all in spring or all in summer, so that you can cut the grass when appropriate. A spring-flowering meadow should be cut in midsummer and then mowed as usual until fall or cut once again in late fall. A summer-flowering meadow should be cut in late spring and again in late fall.
A true lawn will have its own wildlife community, too. Do not allow dandelions and plantain in, but you can add seed of white clover to the lawn seed or scatter it on to an existing lawn. You can mow a path through this meadow and around its edges so it is easy to walk round and admire the flowers.