Remember, remember pets, wildlife… and your garden this Bonfire Night.
In the excitement of finally being able to see other people again, holding Halloween parties, trick-or-treating, having a bonfire and letting off fireworks with family and friends, it can be easy to forget how to keep pets and wildlife safe around you – and of course: how to protect your garden and lawn from unnecessary damage.
After a year or more of having their owners at home with no visitors and no fireworks being set off, the return to normal can be quite a shock for your pets, especially at this time of year. The first thing to remember is to be considerate of those around you: even if you don’t have any pets, your immediate neighbours might, and they might be severely affected. Be considerate by trying to keep your fireworks to the usual days (such as the 5th of November or the weekend either side of this date) and preferably don’t let them off too late in the evening. If you are planning a different time to let off fireworks, try to let your neighbours know so that they can help their pets to cope.
If you have pets yourself, do what you can to keep your pet calm. This can include:
- providing them with a safe space, such as a covered crate, where they can hide.
- giving them a favourite toy that you know comforts them.
- try a plug-in diffuser (such as Adaptil).
- comfort your pet if they need it.
- walk your dog earlier in the day.
- don’t force your pet outside.
Have a look at the Dogs Trust for more help with your dog.
Where fireworks and bonfires can be scary for pets, without the proper precautions they can be life threatening for wildlife. The key is to remember that piles of wood and leaves are the perfect place for small creatures to hide away in, so it is vital to check everywhere before starting your bonfire or setting off fireworks.
- Try to build your bonfire on the day you are going to light it to minimise the possibility of inadvertently creating a home for creatures such as hedgehogs, frogs, toads and newts.
- It is a good idea to create other wildlife shelters (or bug hotels) around your garden by piling wood and leaves in specific areas where you won’t burn them, thereby giving creatures somewhere safe to make their home.
- Check, check and check again before lighting anything.
- If you find a hedgehog or other such creature nestled inside, simply move them (using gloves) to a safe place.
- Keep fireworks away from trees and hedgerows so as to minimise any disturbance or the possibility of fire damage. Do not pin Catherine Wheels (for example) to trees, but instead pin them to a stake in an open area.
- Tidy up afterwards to make sure there is no rubbish left that could harm wildlife. Make sure the bonfire is completely extinguished to prevent injuries.
Bonfires and fireworks can damage your garden too. Heat will kill off any flora and fauna in the soil, so it is important to minimise the damage and repair it quickly afterwards.
- Following the same rules for wildlife will also help your garden to come out of the evening relatively unscathed. By positioning your bonfire and fireworks in the most open area possible, you can drastically reduce any possible damage.
- Try to keep some of the biodegradable materials out of the bonfire and instead compost them to put back into your soil.
- After a bonfire, make sure the fire is completely out, then remember to rake through and clear as much of the debris as possible in order to preserve the grass underneath.
- Keep the ashes to mix in with your other compost before redistributing into your soil.
- If your lawn is damaged, rake, reseed and fertilise. A good seed to use is our Rescue Seed: a blend specifically made for the colder months that will give you a green effect relatively quickly. Remember to mix with another seed for a longer lasting grass and use a fertiliser such as Stripy Green to ensure good growth. Call our experts on 01935 850388 for more advice on seeds and fertilisers.
- If reseeding won’t help your lawn, you can returf at any time of year with our good quality turf, just remember: the cooler the weather, the longer it will take to establish.
The most important thing is to have fun and stay safe.