How to help garden wildlife in a drought

The long and dry spells, experienced this summer, have devastated both the horticulture industry and private gardens around the country

Wildlife across Britain has suffered as water levels declined and food sources became scarce. At the end of July, it was estimated our flagship garden, RHS Garden Wisley, would need 5.5 inches of rain to restore soils to the moisture levels of spring.

With the hot weather expected to return we're urging gardeners to support wildlife by following our top tips:


Encourage nectar production

Keep pollinator friendly and summer-flowering species like single dahlias, single fuchsias and verbena going by watering well and deadheading regularly. Nectar flow can slow if plants get really thirsty and flowers can run to seed.

Deadheading dahlias


Improve access to ponds

Ensure wildlife can get in and out of ponds as water levels drop. Extend ramps in steep-sided ponds and position plants so they provide extra access points. 

Pond surrounded by plants and rocks


Create a rehydration station

Leave saucers of water in the garden for wildlife to sip from, placing pebbles and marbles in them to aid insects and smaller birds. Beekeepers can also support their hive by placing chicken drinkers, with pebbles in the trough, close to hives.

Bird bath full of water


Leave overgrown plants for shade

Avoid tidying the garden. Leave wildflower and meadow grasses uncut, increase log piles, and leave plants that have gone to seed in place. They are relished as a shelter and as nesting supplies while the seeds are highly prized by goldfinches. Watch out for toads that have burrowed to escape the heat when digging.

Overgrown plants near a brick wall


Tend your compost heaps

Composting garden wastes, especially in shady areas, is very helpful to wildlife. The insects, slugs and worms associated with rotting vegetation can feed other wildlife including amphibians and hedgehogs. Moisten the compost if it's dry. 

Earthworm on top of soil


Support hedgehogs

Supplement the diet of hungry hedgehogs by leaving proprietary hedgehog food, available from most bird feed suppliers, in shady spots. These garden favourites need moist soil to easily reach earthworms and other invertebrates that make up much of their diet. 

A purpose made hedgehog home


Care for containers

Group container plants together and keep them well-watered as a refuge for frogs, toads and newts.

A collection of container plants stood in water


Find more advice on caring for garden wildlife


Our drought and watering strategy

The spell of hot and dry weather experienced this summer has created challenges for all our gardens

See how we are coping


With your support, we can undertake valuable research into gardening pests and diseases.

Join the RHS

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.