Wildlife Gardens Awards

Wild Ideas

Wild ideas for outdoor spaces

However large or small your outdoor space, you can support wildlife. The walls and window of a flat can be used as well as windowsills or balcony railings. Groups of containers can provide a little habitat and climbing plants or hanging baskets can make good use of vertical space.

The same key elements of Shelter, Food, Water and Garden Management apply to all wildlife-friendly outdoor space whether your plot is a windowsill or park!

Expand the sections below to find out more about our suggestions on how you can improve your outdoor space or have a look at our handy checklist of features that are included in the Wildlife Gardens Awards scheme.


Fix a bird feeder to the outside of your window. Make sure it is in a spot that is safely accessible for refilling and cleaning. Feeders can attract a range of smaller birds such as tits, sparrows and finches, even to the upper storeys of flats and once they have found the feeder, birds will continue to use it regularly.


Birds and insects need fresh water at all times. Attach a small water dish to a wall or fence, include a few pebbles to enable insects to alight, and clean and replenish regularly.


A nest box on the wall of a flat can attract nesting blue tits or great tits. They will use a box several storeys from the ground. Even better if you also have a balcony where a few plants, including climbers, can enhance the environment for small birds. It is advisable to have professional help to safely attach the box to a wall. The box should face between north-east and south-east.

We recommend the friendly folk at the Bisham Nest Box Group. This not-for-profit, volunteer-led group make all of their bird, bat, bee and hedgehog boxes from reclaimed wood, and will advise and fit boxes in the best position to attract your new wildlife visitors, for a small donation.


Wildlife friendly plants in courtyards and on balconies can attract honeybees, bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, beetles and a good range of birds. Choose nectar and pollen producing plants and group your containers together to create shelter for wildlife and make watering more efficient. Hanging baskets are another option for creating planting space.

Suggestions for plants on a balcony or in a courtyard:

Annuals: Baby blue eyes, Californian poppy, candytuft, cornflower, echium, English marigold, French marigold, nasturtiums, night scented stock, poached egg plant, poppy.

Bedding Plants: Dahlias*, forget-me-not, heliotrope, impatiens, lobelia, pansy, petunia (blue or white), sweet william, tobacco plant, verbena, wallflower.

Bulbs: Bluebell, crocus, sedum, squill, winter aconite.

Climbers: Broad leaved everlasting pea, small flowered clematis, honeysuckle, ivy.

Cottage garden plants: Aubretia, catmint, erigeron, evening primrose*, lamium, lungwort, sweet rocket, valerian.

Herbs: Borage, chives, hyssop, lavender, lemon balm, marjoram, mint, sage, thyme, winter savory.

Shrubs: Buddleia*, Ceratostigma, Heather, Hebe*, rockrose, jasmine

Pond Plants: Brooklime, duckweed, fringed water lily, lesser spearwort, water lily*.

Wildflowers: Bird’s foot trefoil, cornflower, field scabious, greater knapweed, lady’s smock, primrose, rockrose, small scabious, wild marjoram, wild thyme.

*look for small or dwarf varieties of these plants

For people putting wildlife at the heart of their outdoor spaces