Build your own bug hotel with Garden to Wellbeing

I love reusing and recycling materials to create wellbeing gardens with my clients. There’s something really rewarding about rescuing something that would have been thrown away and turning it into something amazing.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be showing you how to make some beautiful things for your own gardens, starting with building your own luxury bug hotel made from reclaimed pallets.

Bug hotels are fun to build and provide shelter for the smallest critters in your garden. It’s a great project to do with kids to get them thinking about the importance of wildlife habitats which are increasingly under threat.

What to do:

The key to creating a five-star hotel is to divide it into sections and fill each section with different materials. To attract a range of bugs, you’ll want some dark, damp sections and others that are drier and get more sunshine.

Choose a flat spot in your garden and stack the pallets on top of each other. If you want a smaller hotel then cut the pallets into smaller pieces. Check to make sure that any wood you use isn’t treated with nasty chemicals. Stuff the hotel with natural materials to give the bugs somewhere to hide.

Our three-story lodge includes a penthouse suite and pinecone, stick and sunflower themed rooms. We called our hotel the Travel Bug Lodge but you can choose your own name for yours.

You can get creative with what to use in your hotel but here are some good things to include:

Deadwood is an important habitat for beetles, woodlice and centipedes so include as much as you can. Use decaying bark and logs and drill holes into newer wood so the bugs can get in and out.

Bamboo canes and other hollow stems provide good nesting sites for solitary bees.

Dry flowers and leaves are fantastic cover for bugs. We included dried sunflowers in our design because we liked the idea of having themed rooms. You can use small terracotta pots turned on their side to hold the dry materials too.

Sticks and twigs. Pack these into spaces and use the biggest ones to divide your hotel up into rooms.

Pinecones. You’ll find lots of these laying about so go for a walk to collect them.

Straw is warm and cosy so you’ll have lots of happy bugs if you include some in your hotel.

Stones and bricks add structure and points of interest. Use the bricks to create layers between the pallets.

We made a felt roof for ours to keep it dry, but you could use old tiles or leave it without.

If you want to give your hotel a name, then use a flat piece of wood and paint it to make a sign.

It won’t be long before new residents start moving in and enjoying the hotel!

About the Author

Emily Butt runs Garden to Wellbeing, a not-for-profit organisation, offering therapeutic gardening sessions to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing. Client gardeners include children, youth groups, refugees, domestic abuse survivors and those with additional support needs such as autism.

They also help organisations to set up and start running their own Garden to Wellbeing programmes.

Images (courtesy of Emily Butt) of client gardener Chris who lives with autism.