How to improve your garden’s biodiversity
While natural lawns support more biodiversity than plastic lawns, they can still be resource intensive if they are heavily managed. In addition to their use of water, the use of nutrient mixtures and weedkillers by some gardeners can also take their toll on the environment.
However, natural lawns can be transformed to support greater biodiversity, as well as use less resources, with a few small changes. One of the easiest ways is to mow less and encourage grass to grow longer, which can provide shelter for wildlife and help maintain moisture.
Becky Clover, the Museum’s Urban Biodiversity Officer, says, ‘Cutting your grass less can be one way to encourage wildlife into your garden by allowing the grasses and herbaceous plants in the lawn to flower. These provide nectar, pollen and seeds to support invertebrates and birds, as well as somewhere for a range of animals to forage and shelter.’
‘Taller grass also stays green for a longer period in the summer as it helps maintain humidity and soil moisture during dry periods.’
Becky recommends having a variety of different habitats in a garden, such as long grass and wildflower areas, to provide a range of resources throughout the year. Choosing a mixture of flowers which bloom at different times from spring through to late autumn ensures that wildlife can thrive all year around.
‘If you have limited space, planting for pollinators can be a good use of your garden or outside space,’ Becky adds. ‘Even if you only have plant containers or pots on a balcony, providing flowers can be invaluable to bees, butterflies, beetles and other pollinators.’
‘Try to plant flowers with a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and fragrances to attract a range of species. However, try to avoid modified horticultural forms, such as those with double flowers, as these do not always provide accessible nectar and pollen.’
Creating log piles and other sheltered areas, such as compost heaps, provides respite for a range of wildlife. Leave features like log piles in-situ during the winter, as animals like toads may be hibernating under them and won’t want to be disturbed.
If you have the space and time to spare, planting bushes, hedges and climbing plants can add complexity to the garden environment and provide nesting and foraging opportunities. These should ideally include plants which produce fruits, berries and seeds which can support vertebrates and invertebrates alike.
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