Build a Garden Bug Hotel

 In Gardening for Wildlife, Wildlife

How to build a Garden Bug Hotel

In this blog I’ll explain just how easy it is to build a garden bug hotel.

Do you remember when you last had to scrape squashed insects off the front of your car?

It used to be a regular summertime task but sadly it’s not anymore.

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A garden bug hotel at Stowe using old pallets and bricks

I can’t believe that it’s down to cars being more aerodynamically designed. I’m sure they are, but bugs and insects of all kinds are so much less common now.

So what you might say, they only eat your flowers and vegetables!

Well some of them certainly do, but most of them are ‘good guys’ and are important for pollination of crops, predate pests species and are food for lots of things further up the food chain.

At this time of the year there is something very positive that you can do to protect these beleaguered bugs. What’s more, you can do it in your garden with bits of old rubbish!

I’m talking about building over-wintering homes for bugs or what are now known as garden bug hotels!

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A smart decorative but functional garden bug hotel at Babylonstoren in South Africa

This is a great project to do with children. Building a bug hotel with them could be great fun and remember that you get the place tidied up too!

Bug hotels are places for those all-important creepy crawlies to survive whatever our winter throws at them and come spring, they’ll be back out in your garden pollinating, eating pests and getting eaten themselves!

How to build a garden bug hotel

A good starting point is to find a few old wooden pallets. Often the owners of these are only too pleased to see them taken away! These can form the main structure and framework of your hotel. If you can’t find any pallets then scrap wood or bricks and concrete blocks will do just as well.

Before you start constructing, look for a quiet out-of-the-way place in your garden to site the hotel.  It’s not so much that your construction will be unsightly; it’s more that it will have higher occupancy in a shaded and sheltered location. Behind the garage, behind the shed, under a tree or in an alleyway are all worth investigating.

Using the pallets or bricks start to build the hotel in layers leaving plenty of gaps. Into those gaps, stuff rolled up cardboard, old bamboo canes, bunches of dried grass and straw. Add a few old pots, broken tiles and perhaps some cut pieces of pipe. All this infill will create top places for bugs to hibernate in your hotel! Keep on piling it up and make it as varied as you can because that way you will attract the widest range of insects.

You may be restricted by available materials, but a hotel of about 75-100 cms high is perfect. Don’t worry if yours is shorter; just think of it more as a bug bungalow!

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A garden bug hotel made entirely from waste materials

I find that topping the whole thing off with some old grass turf works well. It keeps some of the winter rain out and looks very natural too!

After a year or two you will find that it needs a bit of renovation and some of the materials will have either rotted or have been taken for nest building.

These can soon be replaced by stuffing more cardboard, straw, sticks or whatever you can lay your hands on.

And as the wood breaks down it will be attacked by hordes of insects and their larvae providing even more food for wildlife.

The RHS has put together some useful tips on building a garden bug hotel here as a part of their Campaign for School Gardening.

There’s some great tips from The Eden Project here too.

And there’s more good stuff from Happy DIY Home here!


If you’d like to encourage more moths and butterflies into your garden I’ve some tips on that here.

You might like to read more about wildlife here –

Read about Ancient Cattle living wild in Britain here.

Or Wildlife on the Alaskan Inside Passage

insect hotel, bugs, garden, garden projects for wildlife

A garden bug hotel made of roof tiles, bricks, pallets, logs, fir cones and much more!

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