Expert gardener Simon Akeroyd has already told us how hedgehogs and ladybirds can help control pests in our garden.
But did you know that birds are also pretty good at the job?
If you want to recruit some new feathered friends to help keep aphids, slugs and caterpillars at bay, read on for tips on how to bring them to your garden
Plants provide birds with areas to roost and raise their young as well as supply them with food throughout the year.
‘In exchange for their board and lodgings, they will reduce the number of pests in your garden by feasting on aphids, slugs and caterpillars,’ says Simon.
‘Thorny shrubs like bramble (Rubus) and hawthorn (Crataegus) can be ideal for birds like blackbirds (Turdus merula) and dunnocks (Prunella modularis), which nest low in bushes – thorns provide a barrier against predators.
‘An evergreen climber such as ivy (Hedera) will create nesting opportunities for birds like robins.’
Seeds and weeds
ants to set seed. ‘Weeds like dandelions and thistle seeds are a fantastic resource for birds.
‘If you don’t want plants to run wild, consider planting field scabious, lavender, lemon balm or teasel.’
‘To draw in birds over the autumn and winter, provide a variety of berry-producing plants.
‘Try blackberry, elder, Guelder rose and holly. Ivy provides a fantastic berry resource late in the season, when other berries have gone.’
Turn the heat up on squirrels
Tired of watching greedy squirrels steal the bird food? Add some chilli, advises Simon. ‘Birds have a sense of taste but their palate isn’t as discerning as our own or that of squirrels.
The capsaicinoids in chilli (which cause the burning sensation) are not felt by birds but will most certainly put squirrels off their food.
‘Mix a small amount of cayenne pepper in with the bird seed and give it a good shake before putting it in the feeder. You shouldn’t need too much, but you may have to experiment with quantities.’