Gardens have risen to the top of home buyers’ priority lists in the wake of lockdown and our love of gardening as a nation shows no sign of slowing.
We all value our gardens more than ever. In fact, our recent research found 60% of respondents valued having access to private outdoor space above all else when choosing a home. But it’s not just us humans who love our gardens, tiny creatures can thrive there too under the right conditions.
A simple solution to help our declining wildlife
Olivia Ward, sustainability coordinator for Redrow, says: “Whether your garden is large or small, it is part of a wider, living landscape which links urban green spaces with nature reserves and the countryside. The way that gardens are created and maintained can influence the natural world and wildlife.”
Sadly there are a number of our native wildlife species that are in decline. Our partners at the Wildlife Trusts have reported that the populations of many much-loved creatures, including hedgehogs, bats, sparrows, song thrushes and stag beetles, are struggling. The good news is that we can all play our part to help reverse their decline by ensuring our gardens provide them with the ideal habitats.
How to create a nature friendly garden
Successful gardening for wildlife is based on four things, which all encourage birds, insects, reptiles and small mammals into your garden:
4. Variety of planting
By ensuring your garden includes some or all of these features, you can be certain that wildlife will make a home there.
Take a look at our video below for top 5 tips for a Bumblebee friendly garden.
A pond is one of the single best features for attracting new wildlife to your garden. The Wildlife Trusts has some guidance on how to build your own pond here.
If you don’t have enough space in your garden for a large pond then you could create a ‘pond in a pot’ in a few simple steps:
1. Find a large ceramic or stone pot
2. Use marine putty to fill in any holes
3. Use waterproof paint for the bottom and sides
4. Add plants designed for water such as water iris and lotus
By introducing a small water feature like this you can attract dragonflies and pond skaters, as well as providing water for birds too.
Planning your planting
Selecting the right plants for your garden can be a great way to give nature a helping hand. For example, heavily scented plants such as honeysuckle can provide night-time nectar for moths.
Many ornamental plants that are commonly found in British gardens, such as pansies and begonias, are of no value to wildlife. Years of cultivation mean that these colourful flowers often produce little pollen or nectar.
Instead, opt for nectar-rich flowers to provide food for bees and pollinators all year round. Spring flowers like pussy willows, crocuses, lungworts and winter heathers are perfect, while early summer flowers loved by bees include allium, catmint, poppy, snapdragon, sweet pea and thyme. Late summer blooms from buddleia, cornflower, echinacea and lavender will continue to nourish our fuzzy flying friends through into the autumn.
There are lots of other ways to attract wildlife to your garden, such as making your own bird feeders, bug hotels and bird boxes. Wildlife-friendly gardening is about creating a space you can really enjoy, while providing benefits for wildlife too. By gardening for wildlife, you’ll be rewarded by a truly natural outdoor space, where you can enjoy the plants, animals and birds that make their home there.
For more information on wildlife gardening, you can visit the Wildlife Trusts’ website here.