Habitat piles and hibernacula in gardens

By Tom Hughes, Sep 24 2017 09:18PM

Creating a habitat pile is one of the best things you can do for wildlife in your garden, and often it can be done for free.

If you have any sticks, twigs, stumps, or logs laying around then you can build a habitat pile using them.

This provides shelter for a wide range of macro and micro species from toads and newts to beetles, worms, funghi and millions of other micro-organisms, small mammals like hedgehogs, and even reptiles. The protection from wind and light means organisms can use these habitat piles for overwintering, meaning that come spring, your garden will be teaming with life. Not only that but you can save yourself a trip to the dump and end up with a unique garden feature.


In terms of nature and conservation the benefits are huge: the more habitat(s) you create in your garden means the more organisms and species that can live there. Mixed wood piles are quite rare in gardens, so adding one increases the habitat diversity of the local area signficiantly.

This means a a more diverse and healthy garden ecosystem, which means better bio-regulation of pest species, and more food being made available to your plants through the functions of decomposers.

Also, as the wood and other material rots it locks down carbon and many other important nutrients into the soil in your garden.


Start with the biggest bits of wood and work your way down to twigs, chippings, leaves, and weeds.

Arrange your pile with a conscious design to make it aesthetically pleasing.

Put the pile somewhere that gets a reasonable amount of light, but not full sun, and is connected to plants and other microhabitats within the garden. I.E not in the middle of an area of gravel or concrete.

Try to leave gaps within the pile and entrances of different sizes.

Pile on top with weeds or even soil.

For added impact, dig a small pit before placing your wood, that way the hibernacula is extra-protected form the elements and appears smaller. If you then place the excavated soil back on top, you have a HUGEL CULTURE, which can be planted on top of to make an excellent garden feature.

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