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Add life with dead wood

log pile in the gardenDead wood is full of living things! Rotting wood is both home and food for various beetle grubs and a vast army of other mini-beasts. All these creatures make a tasty snack for birds, hedgehogs and frogs. Log piles are also a damp, cool retreat in the heat of summer, and a frost-free hibernation site in winter. For both these reasons they're popular with amphibians once they've left the water after breeding.

Five ways to use logs in the garden

You can get logs from tree surgeons or firewood dealers. If you're lucky, some pieces may already contain beetle grubs which could hatch and populate your garden. Native wood is best, but really anything will do.

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1. Scattered in a border. Handy for keeping plants apart and mulching the soil – but you'll get more animal life from a concentrated stack
2. Neat and tidy. As often seen in coppiced woodlands. Maximises the cool, moist, shady effect for a particular log size
3. Higgledey piggledy. The 'natural' way to do it, and great for architectural impact. But it can create remarkably little shade
4. Organ pipes. Sunken wood creates the most micro-climate possibilities. Especially recommended in the Thames Valley (using native wood) for stag beetles. If you can't bury your logs, heaped wood chippings are another way to help stag beetles
5. Giant cheese. If you can get a real 'wagon wheel' log, it will create the most stable environment of all underneath. Superb for amphibian hibernation

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