Grow a Garden for Birds

In this post, we share some of the best plants to introduce into your space to grow a garden for birds.

Making & filling feeders & feeding stations provide a valuable instant food source particularly in the Winter when birds need the extra energy but they fail to address the fact that garden birds need a diversity of food sources & spaces to set up home – ever more vital with the current levels of habitat loss across the countryside.

So as well as adding feeders in the short-term, building up a bird-friendly garden for the future with spaces for nesting, shelter as well as providing a bounty of food year-round is ultimately the best thing you can do for our feathered friends. What’s more, it requires little more effort or cost than an initial shop & plant.

Furthermore by bringing a huge variety of bird life into your garden, you & your garden will benefit from the ultimate weed & pest control team! Seed eating birds such as finches munch through many garden weeds such a dandelion & thistle seeds & insect eating birds such as our beloved robin helping to eat aphids & caterpillars throughout our gardens.

Planting for Birds

(& vitally insects too)

Native Species

  • Hawthorn. Keep their berries right through to Spring providing a long, reliable source of food. The young hawthorn leaves are munched on by many moth caterpillars which are in turn enjoyed by young birds.
  • Blackthorn – Along with all of the plants on this list bar Teasel & the Strawberry tree make a fantastic bird-friendly hedging mix.
  • Guelder Rose – Berries for bullfinches. Fantastic in hedging mixes.
  • Rowan – Berries for blackbirds, starlings & important food for waxwings.
  • Strawberry Tree – Native to the West of Ireland, berries & blossom.
  • Wild Teasel – Full of seeds in the Autumn for goldfinches & sparrows.
  • Ivy. Ivy blossom buzzes with insects in the Autumn which is a feast for insect loving birds such as robins & wrens. Later in the Winter it produces berries loved by thrushes, jays, starlings & blackbirds. Its thick tangle of growth provides fantastic nesting spaces & shelter too.
  • Honeysuckle. Blossom for insects & berries for bullfinches, warblers & thrushes & plenty of nesting space too.

‘Exotic’ Species

  • Juneberry. Blossom in the Spring & berries in June adored by fruitivorous birds!
  • Chokeberry. Blossom & berries
  • Crabapples. Blossom & berries too.
  • Cotoneaster. Huge quantities of berries, very tough shrub, easy to grow.
  • Pyracantha – Blackbirds especially partial to these berries.
  • Sunflowers – Loved by finches, long-tailed tits & nuthatches.
  • Apple Rose – Blossom & huge fruit!

Suppliers & Support

If you’re based in Ireland & are looking for local suppliers for the plants listed here, we recommend Future Forests outside Kealkill & Deelish Garden Centre outside Skibbereen. Both are based in West Cork but offer delivery nationally.

Finally, if you’d like to grow a garden for birds but need help deciding what might be best suited to your space, we offer a range of garden design services & virtual advice sessions, specialising in wildlife friendly design. For more information visit our Garden Design Page here.

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