Recently I was preparing an area for planting, so dug up a lot of rocks and stones. These are a variety of sizes and shapes, mostly between 5cm and 30cm. So now I have a large pile of rocks.

I would like to do something with these rocks, to benefit wildlife in my garden. So how should I arrange them? Better as one big pile, or several smaller piles? Or maybe build a dry stone wall, or other structure? And whereabouts in the garden should I put them?

And what sort of wildlife could it attract? Specifically in Scotland.


Stone walls and piles provide a number of things for wildlife and plants:

  • shelter
  • habitat in the form of a microclimate

For a garden I favour a dry stone wall as it is more functional and of nicer appearance than a pile of rocks. However wildlife cares little for aesthetics.

Anything you build will take time to become lived in. If you don't have any other features in your garden then new tenants will take a while to arrive. What will have them lining up to use your wall or rock pile is if these are also located closeby:

  • water- shallow water is used by birds to drink and bathe, dragonflies lay their eggs in persistent ponds, toads and frogs will use vernal pools
  • food - flowers, berries, seeds

Toads like to overwinter underground in a sheltered area. If you dug out an area and created some underground chambers they could be potential tenants. Shrews and voles are possible too.

One must take a relaxed attitude towards providing accommodation. You just don't know who will take up your offer. You hope for VIP's and get burrowing rabbits..


I stack any larger rocks I find when gardening onto piles. I find that these piles attracts snakes and lizards who like to live between the rocks and sunbathe on top of them. The snakes and lizards eat mice and insects, so I like to encourage that.

When deciding where to make your pile, find a location that gets some sunlight to encourage animals, but also consider if the location will block your future needs for your property. Once you create a large pile of rocks, you won't want to move them again, and that can be a problem if you need to drive or push a wheelbarrow through that location to reach some other spot.

If you want to soften the appearence of a rockpile there are some plants (example) that are happy to grow on rocks. As Kevinsky mentions in his post, providing a reliable water source nearby helps attract animals; in summer you can't let this water go dry and in winter you should make sure non-frozen water is still available.

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