Credit: Kate Nightingale
Gardens have an enormous potential to act as mini-nature reserves. There are 15 million gardens in the UK, estimated to cover about 270,000 hectares – more than the area of all the National Nature Reserves in the UK.
How we garden is more important than ever. 60 percent of the 3,148 UK animal and plant species have declined in the past 50 years for a range of reasons including loss of habitat. Many of our common garden species – hedgehogs, house sparrows, starlings and common frogs, for example – are becoming much less common. This is where gardeners can make a difference, by making their own gardens and the green spaces in their communities more wildlife friendly.
People and Wildlife
Gardens are a place to relax, play, potter, entertain and enjoy watching wildlife. You can have an attractive and productive garden and also help your local wildlife. From the plants we choose to how we look after our gardens it all helps increase biodiversity.
Over the past 50 years we've seen declines in two thirds of our plant and animal species. But together we can help to halt the slide.
Wildlife needs four things to thrive in your garden:
- A Place to Breed
Some of the key features for a wildlife garden:
- Trees and shrubs
- Nectar-rich flowers and shrubs
- Ponds, bog gardens, bird baths
- A variety of plant shapes, sizes and heights
- Cracks and crevices e.g. rockery, climbing plants
- Long grass area
- Dead wood e.g. log pile and standing dead wood
Include as many of these to provide a variety of habitats for wildlife.
For more information, advice and ideas:
- Wild about Gardens Week (26 October - 1 November 2015) This year the focus is how to help hedgehogs in your garden.
- The Wildlife Trusts - Wildlife Gardening leaflet pdf
- The RHS and The Wildlife Trusts joint site for wildlife gardening -www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk
- LRWT – Wildlife Gardening in the Charnwood Forest
- LRWT - Grow Wild Project (can support your school or community group to make the most of its outdoor spaces for you and for wildlife)
- Naturespot - Record the wildlife in your garden.
- Wildlife Gardening for Everyone by The RHS and The Wildlife Trusts, 2010
- Wildlife of a Garden: A thirty year study by Jennifer Owen, 2010
- Birds in your garden by The RHS and The Wildlife Trusts, 2010
- Concise Garden Wildlife Guide by The Wildlife Trusts, 2015