Composting is cheap and easy and creates a wonderful end product that feeds the soil and improves its structure. It’s a great idea for every gardener, but especially the wildlife gardener.
Most of the composting process is carried out by tiny animals, fungi and bacteria, almost invisible to the naked eye. Slugs and snails, springtails, woodlice, millipedes, earwigs, worms, beetles and other creatures consume the decaying matter and these attract hedgehogs, birds, frogs and toads who feed on them. The decomposition process generates heat which makes the heap an inviting place for reptiles such as lizards and slow-worms and, if you’re lucky, for grass snakes to lay their eggs.
Discover tips for success on our RHS Guide to composting.
An unrestricted heap might look a bit untidy but is more accessible for larger animals like hedgehogs and toads. Plastic or metal compost bins are more practical in a smaller garden, and will be colonised by worms and invertebrates such as springtails, but they are unlikely to accommodate larger creatures which will have difficulty getting in.
A traditional boxed compost heap is probably the happy medium and is reasonably simple to build. The compost sits directly on the ground which means easy access for worms and other creatures. The sides can be made from wooden boards or old pallets.