Log piles provide a home or a refuge for many species: invertebrates; amphibians such as frogs, toads and newts; and small mammals such as hedgehogs, mice, shrews and voles.
All of these creatures predate on garden pests. With a rich biodiversity such as this you won’t feel the need to resort to garden chemicals, which disrupt ecological balance and can be harmful to many species other than the one you want to target.
If your logs are of hardwood, these are especially beneficial for stag beetles, which are declining in numbers. Stag beetle larvae live for 3 – 5 years in decaying hardwood.
Here’s what these gardener’s friends will eat in your garden:
- Hedgehogs – slugs, cutworms, millipedes, wireworms and woodlice
- Frogs, toads and newts – slugs and woodlice
- Ground beetles – cutworms, eelworms, leatherjackets, slugs, insect eggs and vine weevil grubs
- Centipedes – insects and slugs
- Hoverflies – aphids whose larvae are especially good because they prey on greenfly and the adults are great pollinators
- Lacewings and ladybirds – aphids
So if you have had a tree felled or pruned, try to find a corner to stack up the logs. This is the most beneficial way to stack them, to give small spaces for refuge. Do not use treated timber.
If you drill holes in the ends of the logs, you’ll provide homes for solitary bees.
After two or three years, the log pile will begin to look naturalised.
Your prunings may be in the form of large twigs rather than logs. These too can be effective.
See also Sara’s poem on the Importance of Deadwood.