Making our gardens and outdoor spaces wildlife havens is one way we can help restore the balance of nature, attracting pollinators and insects back into our gardens and lives.
And, that is good news for everyone and everything…
Modern day, intensive farming methods have had a devastating impact on nature, and have undoubtedly led to the dramatic decline in the world’s pollinators, birds and insects. And this loss, poses a serious threat to mankind.
The good news is, we can fight back by taking positive action to restore the natural balance, ensuring that our pollinators don’t just survive, but thrive.
In truth, bees are essential to life, and are responsible for one in every three mouthfuls of food we eat. In fact life would be unrecognisable without them.
Imagine a world without colour, a landscape stripped bare, where our day-to-day diets lack variety, taste and flavour. And, where many of the foodstuffs, we love, simply disappear!
Although our staple food crops; like rice wheat, and maize, are pollinated by the wind, many of our most favourite fruits and vegetables - from cucumbers to squash and from strawberries to grapes need pollinators to survive. And let’s not forget, chocolate, coffee, avocado, apples and almonds too. In fact, 85% of plants exist because of bees – so show them some love.
Without pollinators, our vast food halls and supermarkets would be a far cry from where they are today, as over half of the foods they stock would simply vanish from their shelves…
Recognising that everything we do has consequences will help us, not just take responsibility for our lives, but, take positive action so that we can reduce our impact on the world, and learn to live in a way that is better for people, place, and planet too.
So why not follow our top tips and watch your garden burst into life.
1. Leave space for a wild meadow…
Even the smallest space can become a wildlife haven, a natural environment that birds, butterflies, bees and insects will all enjoy – they are easy to create, are very low maintenance and they look utterly gorgeous too. Try scattering a pack of wild flower seeds or throw a seed bomb, or two, then sit back and watch the magic appear.
2. Be bold…
Look to grow a cornucopia of plants and flowers that provide a rich supply of pollen and nectar. Plant flowers that are bursting with colour and include native and non-native species alike…
Don’t forget to grow some climbers, as these make perfect safe havens for many of our pollinators, including bees, butterflies and many birds and insects. And, planting climbers like ivy, for example, against a barren wall or fence will enhance your environment too.
Try adding spring flowers like crocus and snowdrop, then add some abelia, honeysuckle, hawthorn, foxglove, crab apple, lavender, dahlias, heather, marigold, sunflower, echinacea, plus, herbs like thyme, chives, marjoram, rosemary and borage and fruits like strawberry and vegetables, including runner beans.
Whatever you plant, remember to take time to enjoy your space.
3. Make a pond…
Ponds aren’t just for those with a stately home or an expansive lawn. They can come in all shapes and sizes, even an old washing up bowl can be transformed into a simple pond that can work to enhance your outdoor space.
We love this simple, yet highly attractive one that would look good in any setting…
Created by the team at Gardeners World
4. Let your grass grow longer…
We may all want our gardens and lawns to be ‘just so’, however, nature likes a little less order, so, one thing we can all do is mow less often, allowing our lawn weeds to stay a while longer is a fantastic way of helping wildlife, as, lawn weeds like daisies and dandelions are a firm favourite with our pollinators and insects too.
5. Make a bug hotel…
I used to love the song the ‘ugly bug ball’ but today we are talking about creating a safe haven for some of our smallest friends, not only is it a great thing to do, nature will thank us too.
Here’s a simple bug hotel that you can make, that is guaranteed to bring visitors to stay… And is a great activity for kids too.
All you need is 15-20 pieces of bamboo or hollow cane about 15cm long and some garden twine or string.
Tie them into a bunch and place your bug hotel in a quiet corner of your garden.
6. Add some bird feeders and a few nesting boxes too…
Having birds visit our gardens is good for our soul, and putting out wild bird food is an obvious way to encourage birds into our yards and lives.
Why not get creative and hang tea cups filled with delicious fat cakes that are great for our feathered friends, especially in spring, and they will look quite delightful too.
Why not make some of these uber tasty, super easy bird treats...
1. Bird seed
2. Lard or vegetable suet
3. String or twine
4. Cookie cutters /or cups to fill
5. Bowl for mixing
· In a bowl mix your lard with your bird seed.
· Using your hands squash the mixture into your cookie cutters or simply fill your cups.
· Place cutters or cups into the fridge and chill for an hour.
· Prize the treats out of your cutters and make a hole in the top of your cookies and thread with string, if using cups just tie with string.
· And take your creations into your garden and enjoy.
If you have space, then, why not add a nesting box, or two, and if you have a broken teapot these can be made into fabulous homes for some of our tiniest friends. Adding a few nesting boxes in sheltered areas is one way we can bring wildlife into our outdoor spaces.
7. Get composting…
Composting is one of the easiest ways we can improve our soil and growing success, and it will also help us reduce the amount of stuff we waste. Which has significant benefits to the environment, and has a positive affect on air quality too.
8. Install a water butt.
Harvesting rainwater is one of the easiest things we can all do to make a positive difference. It will lower our water bills, reduce demand on vital groundwater, help mitigate against flooding and it can even aid plant growth…
9. Avoid using nasty pesticides…
Let’s face it, the dazzling array of harmful chemical and pesticides, developed in laboratories that make up so much of our agricultural landscape, are playing havoc with the balance of nature, and pesticide use has not just been linked with a loss of biodiversity, they have a detrimental effect on our health and wellbeing too. As pesticides, contain three highly dangerous chemicals; namely arsenic, ethylene and linadane.
These chemical concoctions are what we call ‘carcinogens’, and these have even been linked with some cancers - so let’s get chemical wise and say NO.
10.Provide some fresh drinking water.
As well as providing food for our birds, bees and insects it is important that we also add some water. If you don’t like the idea of a traditional bird bath you can simply add a flat saucer, and, if space is limited, why not get inventive and suspend a gorgeous bowl or container from a safe branch or pole.
Don’t forget, whatever you use, it needs to have sloped sides, as this makes it easier for your visitors to use.
If you loved this, then look out for our top tips to growing success.