Make space for nature in your garden
With urban sprawls taking over so much of our natural habitat, it’s always good to give something back to the environment. After all, the land your home sits on is where birds once nested and where butterflies and bees collected the pollen and nectar, so essential for maintaining nature’s biodiversity.
It’s never too late to welcome back some of the creatures that once called your garden “home”. Here are a few things you can do:
Flowers – The pollen and nectar of flowers enable butterflies and bees to do their crucial work of cross-pollination. Flowers also produce fruits and seeds which are also absolutely vital to maintaining nature’s balance. Planting flowers helps protect the population of bees and other pollinators, which are currently on the decline.
When planting, avoid hybrids with difficult to access double-petal flowers as these often lack nectar and pollen too. Instead opt for pollen-rich varieties like Cranesbills Geraniums, Asters, Cornflowers and Globe Thistles.
Shrubs and trees – A good mixture of trees, hedges, shrubs and climbers provides essential shelter and food for wildlife, as well as nesting for insects, birds and small garden animals. Blossom and fruit rich shrubs and trees like rowan, elder, crabapple and hawthorn are all great choices.
Nesting boxes and bug hotels – These can be attractive additions and talking points in your garden. But more importantly, they provide safe homes to birds and insects, creating the perfect haven for them to flourish and do their crucial work of distributing pollen and seeds.
Water – If there’s space, dig a pond; alternatively, add a container of water to accommodate wildlife like newts, frogs, toads and birds. Avoid fish in a pond if your main aim is to introduce wildlife as they tend to eat much of the plant life.
Compost – Keeping old leaves and other garden waste on a compost heap speeds up the natural recycling of nutrients from the soil. Compost added to your garden’s soil boosts its health as well as all that grows in it. The heat from a compost heap makes it a great home for resident slowworms and grass snakes.
Deadwood – The perfect habitat for many increasingly rare creatures of the countryside, dead wood or log piles make great homes and hibernation sites for stag beetles, bark beetles and their grubs, along with some species of fungi.
Grass – If you have a large area of lawn, don’t mow it all; instead, create a meadow area by leaving a patch to grow. It will provide shelter and a natural habitat for small mammals like voles, shrews and wood mice. Meadows also attract wildflowers which, in turn, provide nectar and pollen for the flying insects of the garden.