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There are many different types of gardener in the world. Some are prolific growers able to raise the most challenging plants with ease. Others dream of beautiful outdoor spaces they can enjoy with their families. Then, there are those gardeners who relish in the wildness of it all, who build hiding spots for bees and nesting pods for visiting birds.
These gardeners are less interested in creating a landscaping vision and more passionate about bringing nature back to their yard. So, show your favourite gardener you care by giving a wildlife gift that lends a hand to bugs, birds, frogs, hedgehogs and more. Not only will it make a special person smile, but you’ll also be helping the environment.
If you browse in the right places, you’ll find lots of wildlife gifts designed to create or support natural activity. We’re talking about things like bird boxes, bee hotels, seeds for prolific pollinators, wildlife cameras, bat shelters and more. The best thing about these garden gadgets is they tend to be very affordable. It doesn’t cost much to give a wildlife gift.
Let’s take a closer look at some of our favourite wildlife gifts and gadgets for gardeners.
Need more gift ideas for the garden? why not check out our article on 100 gift ideas for gardeners here.
Illuminated Mini Beast Centre
The Illuminated Mini Beast Centre is a clever gadget that can function as either an insect collection container or a natural moth lure. It depends on what the user is interested in studying. It’s a simple wooden box with holes in either side that gets placed in the garden (where it collects insects) or indoors where ‘captured’ insects can be observed.
The box can also be left outside with its solar lamp on to attract moths which may then be studied and observed in the same way. Essentially, this gadget is a mini insect field trip in a box that’s small enough to carry around. It has a rope handle for easy carrying or hanging up outdoors. If you know a gardener who’s fascinated by bugs, this makes a unique wildlife gift.
Wildflowers Seed Mix
Not all gardeners are fans of wildflowers because they’re the opposite of neat, manicured landscaping. Wildflower seeds are designed to be literally scattered, freely and enthusiastically.
It’s why they are one of the easiest and most dramatic ways to brighten up a drab outdoor space. Just take a handful of seeds, scatter them liberally and wait for the backyard to fill up with vibrant wild poppies, red valerian, sweet rocket, chrysanthemums, common mallow, dahlia blue tansies and many more.
For this reason, a wildflowers seed mix is more than a gift. It’s the potential for colour, personality and life. Seeds of this kind are great for attracting bees and insects which then continue to pollinate the flowers and maintain the beauty of the garden. As they’re very low maintenance, even gardeners with little sowing experience can create something special.
Bats are, arguably, the most underappreciated visitors to domestic backyards. Unfortunately, they’re a victim of movie legends which tell us they’re creepy and unattractive. As anybody who’s ever studied wild bats will know, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Bats are intelligent, curious, graceful and excellent outdoor caretakers.
Not only are they superb pest controllers, but their presence also means plenty of mineral rich fertiliser for the garden. So, welcome them to your backyard with a sturdy bat box.
Just like a bird box, a bat box is a wall or roof mounted shelter where the animals can sleep and nest away from potential predators. When shopping, make sure you only consider bat boxes constructed from untreated wood otherwise the chemicals may harm inhabitants.
Window Bird Feeder
Bird feeders are wonderful garden gadgets that help to bring wild nature back to outdoor spaces. The downside is they’re not easy to enjoy. It’s pretty hard to get close to a standard bird feeder without scaring its visitors away. So, swap your box for a Window Bird Feeder which affixes to a window of your choosing for the best possible view.
These contemporary Window Box Bird Feeders are normally transparent. Most are constructed from clear Perspex which allows homeowners to observe the birds from inside the house.
Use the plastic suckers to attach the box to an outside window (after you’ve filled it with yummy seeds). Then, watch carefully as birds from across the neighbourhood come to check out the new feeding hotspot.
Thermal Imaging Scope
If a bird box isn’t enough to stimulate your excitement, how about something a bit more advanced. Thermal Imaging Scopes are becoming popular with gardeners who are looking for gadgets to give them a better look at local wildlife. They don’t come cheap but thermal scopes are one of the easiest, most reliable ways to monitor animal activity.
We think the most important features, particularly if you’re planning to spend a lot of money, are a long battery life, a high screen resolution (preferably 320 x 240 or more) and anti-drop technology.
Some of the better gadgets promise they can be dropped without damage from up to 1.8 metres. If you’re hoping to set the scope up indoors, by a window perhaps, a standalone imager may be more suitable than a gadget that requires a camera.
You may have heard of bee hotels for the garden. Insect hotels work in much the same way, but they provide more than one type of habitat.
They are generally larger with a variety of different sized openings for bees, butterflies, ladybugs, green lacewings and other helpful pollinators. Insect hotels make great wildlife gifts because they are low maintenance, affordable and easy to install.
Most don’t even require nails. You can hang your hotel from a single hook in an area of the garden which attracts flying insects. Whether you’re buying one of these garden gadgets for yourself or a loved one, make sure it’s untreated.
Just like bats, insects can be seriously harmed by the chemicals in treated wood. So, your hotel needs to be made from unpainted wood and, preferably, have a corrugated metal roof as well.
Bird Box Camera
Some of the best wildlife gifts are those which give gardeners a view on nature they don’t normally get to enjoy. This is the case with Bird Box Cameras which use micro devices to unobtrusively record nesting activities. Often, the bird camera is sold with a bird box, so you don’t need to disturb any existing nesting spots.
You always have the option to buy a standalone bird camera and place it in an existing box, but this can be tricky. We recommend buying the set.
You might have to wait some time for new animals to move in but, once they do, you’ll be treated to your very own wildlife documentary. Make sure your bird box comes with a cable that connects to a PC or laptop.
How to Make a Wildlife Garden
Perhaps you know somebody who is determined to create a beautiful wildlife garden from scratch with plenty of appealing features for insects, birds and foragers.
If you do, we recommend you give Chris Baines’ classic guide ‘How to Make a Wildlife Garden’ as a gift. Just make sure to look for the most recent edition. Baines has been updating his ‘must have’ manual since 1985. There’s nobody more knowledgeable about wild gardening.
Now fully revised and with new illustrations, the most recent edition addresses challenging topics such as use of pesticides, how to treat invasive species and whether traditional ‘manicured’ gardens offer anything to wildlife. The guide is positively brimming with creative ideas for attracting butterflies, caring for birds and helping bee populations recover.
You’ve heard of bird boxes and bat nesters. You know all about bee hotels. Have you got a hedgehog house in your garden? Yes, there are special garden shelters for hedgehogs too.
And it’s a good thing because these spiky mammals are under threat from household cats, wild foxes, traffic and even gardening tools. They can be uniquely vulnerable so, if you or somebody you love enjoys wildlife, pick up one of these as a gift.
Hedgehog houses, unlike other nesting boxes, are positioned on the ground. They are normally built to blend in with their surroundings and have wooden tops to look like the earth. When one of these shelters is available, it reduces the risk of garden hedgehogs resting in compost heaps and other areas where they may be harmed.
Bee populations are in serious decline so, if you want a truly wild garden, you’ve got to give a little something back. It’s easy to do so with a solitary beehive as these wooden containers provide the perfect shelter for producing larvae. There’s no need to worry about swarming bees or dangerous nests either – solitary bees are, well, solitary.
They don’t create bee nests or honey, instead using these artificial hives for reproduction and nesting purposes. According to some insect experts, they are better pollinators even than honeybees. It means there’s no downside to giving a solitary beehive as a gift; the guests who’ll move in are very quiet and will keep your flowers blooming year on year.
There are now lots of different gadgets designed to help wildlife lovers get close to nature. Let’s not forget the original though: binoculars. With a high quality pair of binoculars, there’s nothing you can’t see from the backyard or even from inside the house.
Spotted a family of foxes pawing through the compost pile? Need a covert way to watch the badgers shuffling around your yard after dark? Maybe you just want a better view of the birds.
Whatever the need, a sturdy pair of binoculars can fill it. Just make sure yours are waterproofed if you plan to use them outdoors. Some other features worth looking for are adjustable eyecups for those who wear spectacles, non-slip grips and a tough (preferably rubberised) exterior to reduce damage if dropped.
For those times when binoculars are not enough, invest in a specialised game camera. The term ‘game camera’ normally refers to a recording device used for hunting.
However, many of the smaller, less sophisticated versions are fantastic for monitoring common wildlife in the backyard. These cameras use motion detection technologies to identify living things and take automated pictures or video footage of them.
You don’t need to intervene once you’ve set the camera up in the yard as required. When programmed correctly, most of these devices use infrared sensors to detect sudden changes in ambient temperatures.
Leave your game camera out overnight and you may find some interesting footage waiting in the morning. These ‘hands off’ recording devices are often the only way to effectively monitor shy creatures like badgers, owls, bats and deer.
For the gardener who has everything, give a backyard butterfly house as an interesting gift. Artificial butterfly houses are similar to bee nests and bat boxes, but they tend to be thinner and longer.
They have long openings on their front to enable winged visitors to slip inside safely and use the interior for nesting. Our favourite butterfly houses are the ones which function as feeders as well.
These timber containers have a small flap that can be lowered for use as a butterfly feeding platform. When the weather gets cold and non-migratory butterfly species need safe shelter for the winter, flip the flap back to its original position. As butterflies are extremely efficient pollinators, all wild gardens need to care for them.
If you want to give a bird bath as a garden gift, try to start looking with a good idea of what type you want. Otherwise, you may have to browse hundreds of different products.
Bird baths come in pretty much every size, shape and colour imaginable. Some baths affix to exterior walls. Others are freestanding and can take pride of place in the garden. Some smaller bird baths are best positioned on high windowsills and ledges.
Whatever design you pick, it should be made out of a heavy duty weatherproof material – preferably cast iron – that won’t rust in the rain. If shopping for a freestanding bird bath, try to look for one with rubberised feet or something to keep it steady. Also, if you don’t want to replenish the water supply, make sure it gets placed somewhere it can collect rainwater.
Wildlife Garden Pond
There are lots of ways to create a garden pond and most involve a substantial amount of digging and landscaping. So, if you’ve already put the work into digging out a suitable space for your water feature, why not finish the job with a preformed pond.
These stepped plastic ‘moulds’ are the quickest way to get it done. No liners required; just dig a suitable hole and position the pond’s plastic frame inside.
If you know somebody who’d love to build a garden pond but is lacking landscaping experience, point them to a preformed Wildlife Garden Pond. They come in a variety of different shapes. However, do be aware that most are relatively small. These preformed ‘moulds’ are only really suitable for use in a small scale water feature.
Wildlife Watching Dens
There are casual wildlife watchers and there are those who’ll do everything to capture the perfect image, footage or encounter. Again, the term ‘Wildlife Watching Den’ can encompass a lot of different things. These are the kind of gadgets usually designed for hunting, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with them in the backyard.
If you want to get close to the wildlife in your garden without causing a ruckus, invest in a camouflage den. These dens normally consist of natural coloured nets and mesh that are erected directly on top of you or over you as a rudimentary ‘hide.’ However, success requires patience; you’ll need to be comfortable with staying still for long periods.
The Ladybird Tower is a natural nesting habitat that can help gardeners to attract ladybirds and other pollinating insects. It provides a safe over wintering space for creatures and critters which, in turn, contributes to healthy population growth. Like bat boxes and bird nests, any ladybird towers you use should be made from untreated wood.
The best ladybird towers are those that are made from solid birch, larch or oak logs. They contain a central cavity which can be stuffed with straw to provide extra insulation during the winter months.
Plus, the roof can be removed so this middle chamber becomes easier to inspect and clean. The best place for a ladybird tower is low down on the ground, close to a flowerbed, planter or lawn.
Thank you for reading this post on wildlife gifts for the garden. If you think you know anyone else that wants to encourage garden wildlife why not share it with them?
Paul Nicolaides is a Landscape architect and garden builder with over 30 years experience in designing, building and maintaining gardens. Contemplating just how important garden space is for nature and recreation he created 'Cool Garden Gadgets' to explore the best gadgets for enhancing outside spaces. From outdoor dining ideas to the latest garden technology we break it down for you here.