How to create a wildlife corridor in your garden: A guide for UK gardeners with Lee Burkhill

Our resident horticulturist - Lee Burkhill from BBC's Garden Rescue - is sharing tips on how to create a habitat corridor in your garden to help local wildlife and nature reconnect and reestablish...

Gardening is not just about the joys of beautiful plants but also about connecting to nature. Did you know there’s a clever trick to enable wildlife to come and go from your garden and into neighbouring gardens? These hidden pathways are known as wildlife corridors and can help attract and sustain wildlife in the garden. Whether it’s birds, bees, insects, mammals, or amphibians, this design trick will welcome them all.

Wildlife corridors are essential for preserving biodiversity, allowing animals to move safely between habitats. As our urban homes fragment our natural landscapes, creating a wildlife corridor in your garden can provide crucial pathways for various species. No hard landscaping or actual paths are required! All you need is some simple considerations when planting or designing your garden. Let’s look at what a wildlife corridor is and how to achieve one in your garden.

Understanding wildlife corridors

Understanding wildlife corridors

A wildlife corridor is a strip of natural habitat that connects larger areas, enabling wildlife to travel, find food, and reproduce. These corridors can be as simple as hedgerows, wildflower borders, or even using suitable small garden trees to provide shelter.

Wildlife corridors have vast benefits, enabling your garden to look beautiful and supporting the wider ecosystem. They bring rich biodiversity to gardens and urban areas, allowing different species of birds, insects, mammals, and amphibians to survive. Wildlife corridors also support a healthy ecosystem, which keeps garden pests in check. 

For example, a garden rich in insects and birds will help keep a natural balance between slugs and aphids. Wildlife corridors also help us gardeners tune in more with nature and learn about her cycles. You would be amazed at the variety of life that moves into a well-established wildlife corridor. In no time, you will be bird-spotting and wondering what that brightly coloured insect is!

How to create a wildlife corridor

How to create a wildlife corridor

The first thing to do is draw a rough plan or map of your garden as it currently is to spot where there are gaps, existing trees, walls, or structures. Also, make a note of neighbouring trees or plants that you can see. This gives you an indication of where you can connect the gaps in the corridor. 

A wildlife corridor aims to add both height and planting to connect these gaps and provide shelter for wildlife such as birds and insects. Don’t worry if your neighbours' gardens are blank boxes; you’re simply the trailblazer who will start the path for wildlife. You aim for a continuous belt of trees, shrubs and plants so that wildlife doesn’t need to brave the dangers of an exposed garden. Ideally, wildlife corridors work best towards the back of a garden, but if you want to go to town, creating a border around your garden that connects with rich, diverse planting is even better!

1. Add Trees 

How to create a wildlife corridor | Add Trees

I always aim to have at least one suitable tree in every garden I design. Not only do trees soak up carbon as they grow, but they also add interest in the form of height. Birds and even bats often use this height as a perch and place for some respite. Even in a tiny garden, a small potted tree like an Acer or Olive can act as a perch for birds to dart into as they travel around the corridor for food or resources. 

2. Native Shrubs & Hedges

How to create a wildlife corridor | Native Shrubs & Hedges

The next step is adding some native shrubs for safety. These shrubs have been established here in the UK for centuries, so wildlife already knows how to use them for food or shelter. A great option is the Guelder Rose, a low-cost, easy-to-care-for shrub. These shrubs act as a ladder between the tree and the ground so that wildlife has plenty of shelter and escape routes from cats or other predators. Any form of bug hotels can help encourage a myriad of new life to the garden. Piles of logs or rocks can help to provide additional access to the corridor if you have materials lying around that otherwise would be thrown away.

If you already have a hedge, this is a fantastic refuge for wildlife. If you don’t want to, consider planting a mixed deciduous hedge instead of fencing; it helps baffle the wind and provides food and interest in the garden. You’ll also be able to see the changing seasons as the hedge provides blossom in spring, berries in late summer, and then the leaves change auburn before winter.

3. Pollen Rich Planting

How to create a wildlife corridor | Pollen Rich Planting

After you have planted your suitable tree and a few shrubs, it's time to fill in the rest of the flower beds with pollen-rich herbaceous perennials. These come back year after year and provide food throughout the year for insects, birds, and mammals. Try a bulletproof mix of Salvias, Hardy Geraniums, Ornamental grasses, and Nepeta for an easy, breezy purple mix that can cope with most soils. If you prefer wildflowers, then species like oxeye daisy, red campion, and common knapweed are excellent choices.

Ensure your flower beds are at least 1m deep to enable shelter and also to add drama to your garden design. It’s better to have one deep border than lots of skinny ones. 

4. Pond or Water Feature

How to create a wildlife corridor | Pond or Water Feature

If you want to up the ante and ensure wildlife takes up residence in your garden, then consider adding a pond, no matter how small, to help boost your corridor to a super highway! Not only can birds drink from this water source, but frogs and amphibians can also take up residence and keep your slug population down. Pocket ponds using barrels or container ponds can work well in tiny gardens or patios; within no time, you will see all sorts of activity!

Bird baths are also a good idea, giving them a place to stop and drink. I bet you didn’t know that honey bees and insects also need to drink, so these baths serve more than just your resident blackbird! 

5. Avoid Pesticides

How to create a wildlife corridor | Avoid Pesticides

The last tip when encouraging any wildlife to go to the garden is to consider ditching pesticides. These chemical concoctions may rid your garden of aphids, but they often have a knock-on effect on other gardening companions. The chemicals are sadly vast and can be seen lining our garden centre shelves for a quick fix. 

Neonicotinoids eliminate aphids but are highly toxic to bees, killing them off, too. They also stay in the soil for a long time, even when every aphid has passed over to the other side. They are the most destructive of the pesticides.  Then there are the Pyrethroids, which remove your black fly and sawfly and leach into our watercourses, killing or harming fish.

I urge ethical gardeners to consider working with nature. If you are overrun with slugs, consider a pond. If aphids take over your roses, set up some lacewing bug hotels or encourage birds to the garden instead. 


Creating wildlife corridors is an easy way to help Mother Nature and encourage a whole new ecosystem in your garden. You don’t need to spend vast amounts of money or completely overhaul your garden. It’s more about spotting gaps and adding height and depth to your planting so birds, insects, and mammals can take refuge. Which enables us to connect all of our gardens building a super highway for wildlife to come, go and thrive.

Wildlife corridors will reward you with a garden teaming with life and the satisfaction that you, too, are doing your bit to help restore the balance that our urbanisation has stolen from the natural habitats of our garden-dwelling friends. So when you’re at the garden centre looking for new plants or additions to your garden, consider how they can help create your corridor to welcome friends into your garden, whether it be a tree, shrub or selection of pollen-rich plants. You never know what may make a stop in your garden!

About Lee

Lee Burkhill aka The Garden Ninja

Lee Burkhill aka the Garden Ninja is a multi-award-winning garden designer, horticulturist, garden blogger, vlogger, TV Presenter and YouTuber. Hailing from the North West of England, Lee has an infectious enthusiasm for helping gardeners all over the world. The Garden Ninja is his garden design business and online gardening blog, and he was recently voted one of the Top 10 Gardening Bloggers and Garden Vloggers in the UK. Lee is also part of the BBC Garden Rescue Team, which you can watch on weekdays at 3.45 pm on BBC One or BBC iPlayer. Here at Lazy Susan, we’re looking forward to sharing his exclusive horticultural tips, tricks and advice on our blog.

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