Hedgehogs are the gardener’s friend. They eat many creatures commonly regarded as pests.

Young hedgehogs start living independently in September and need extra help to survive the winter.

Top tips for helping hedgehogs in your garden

  • hedgehogs forage over a large area. Create a hedgehog highway with 13 x 13 cm gaps for them to move between gardens
  • dense planting, organic matter in the soil and log piles will encourage their natural food - beetles, caterpillars and earthworms
  • do not use slug pellets or other pesticides. These affect creatures eaten by hedgehogs and can harm them
  • feed them with special hedgehog food, meaty cat or dog food, or cat biscuits. Milk is bad for them
  • hedgehogs need water to drink but may drown if they fall in a pond or pool and cannot get out. Make sure they have gently sloping edges or ramps giving a way out
  • wild areas and undisturbed piles of branches and leaves are ideal places for hedgehogs to forage and hibernate
  • a hedgehog house in a sheltered spot can be a great place to hibernate. Provide dry leaves or hay for bedding
  • check long grass and bonfires for hedgehogs before doing anything that might harm them, such as strimming or lighting a fire 
  • if you're worried about the condition of a hedgehog in your garden, contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society or a local wildlife rescue organisation.

September plants

  • Verbena bonariensis: these beautiful purple flowers provide food for bees, butterflies and other insects
  • Hylotelephium spectabile (previously known as sedum): these are loved by bees
  • Guelder rose (viburnum opulus): white flowers in spring, and colourful leaves and berries in autumn. The berries stay on the bush until late winter, providing food for birds during cold spells.

Sources: Gardening for a Wilder KentBritish Hedgehog Preservation SocietyBumblebee Conservation Trust gardening advice / Royal Horticultural Society’s Plants for Pollinators

A butterfly sits on a flower.