Environmentally-friendly gardening: 10 top tips
Did you know the UK’s gardens cover a combined landmass that’s bigger than the Lake District and Peak District put together? That’s a huge area and means gardens can provide vital space for wildlife in a human-dominated landscape. It’s a new year, so why not try something new in your garden and make it that little bit greener?
Whether your garden is big or small and whatever your experience level, there’s always something you can do to make a difference. Here are our top ten tips on how to ensure your garden is environmentally friendly.
1. Go native
One of the best ways to attract wildlife to your garden is to fill it with as many native plants as possible. Native wildflowers are easy to grow and maintain, and are often more resistant to pests than non-natives. They are also ideal for attracting bees and butterflies, which need all the help they can get with numbers declining across the country.
2. Plant a tree
If you have space, why not plant a tree? Research has shown that gardens with trees are more attractive to wildlife than those without. They can provide additional benefits like shade and reduced noise pollution too. Again, native species will deliver the greatest benefits.
3. Get wild
It’s understandable that you want to keep your garden neat and tidy, but an overly-manicured space leaves little room for wildlife. Allow a section of the garden to become overgrown and, by letting nature take its course, you’ll have created a more attractive environment for all things wild.
4. Make homes for wildlife
You can give nature an extra helping hand by providing some man-made shelter. From bird boxes to bug hotels and hedgehog homes to bee hives, there are plenty of ways you can make your garden that little bit more comfortable for wildlife. Visit our online shop or have a go at making your own.
5. Grow your own food
Why not devote a patch of your garden to growing your own food? It’s cheaper, reduces your environmental impact and tastes that little bit better knowing you’ve grown it yourself. You can grow plenty of foods, be it vegetables like carrots and potatoes or fruit such as apples and berries. Cherry and crab apple are just two of the native trees you could plant to grow your own fruit.
Credit: Phil Formby / WTML
6. Reduce waste
It’s easy to create unnecessary waste when gardening, but, thankfully, it’s just as simple to find more environmentally-friendly alternatives. For example, you can save water by collecting rain instead of taking it from the tap.
Rather than gathering fallen leaves you could store them in a quiet corner to provide a warm winter refuge for small animals. Once they’ve decomposed, you’ll be left with natural leaf mould – a perfect fertiliser.
Credit: Michael Cooper / WTML
7. Make your own fertiliser
Natural leaf mould is just one way to make your own fertiliser. You can use everything from leftover food to pulled-up weeds and grass cuttings to create a natural means of helping your garden grow. Soaking weeds in a container for a few weeks creates a nutrient-rich solution that can be used to water plants.
You can also try ‘grasscycling’, which involves leaving grass trimmings on the lawn after mowing, providing a natural fertiliser.
8. Get composting
Compost heaps are a surprisingly valuable habitat feature for wildlife and may help to attract a wide variety of creatures into your garden, ranging from earthworms and frogs to hedgehogs and lizards. Always avoid using peat in your compost, as extracting this can destroy unique ecosystems that take centuries to form.
9. Add a water feature
If you have the space, adding a natural water feature to your garden can make a real difference. A pond provides a home for amphibians and insects, as well as drinking and bathing water for birds and mammals. If you don’t have room for a whole pond, a bird bath is a good option, or even a shallow dish of water placed on the ground might be appreciated by wildlife.
Credit: Luke Dray / WTML
10. Improve access
Modern gardens are increasingly enclosed with large walls and fences, making it difficult for ground-dwelling creatures, like hedgehogs, to get around. A hog only needs a gap around 13cm by 13cm to get in and out of your garden, so consider cutting a small hole in your fence to give this declining species a helping hand.
Credit: John Bridges / WTML
More ways to make a difference for nature
How to make a bird feeder: easy homemade feeders
Feeding wild birds: what, how, when and why
What to do if you find a baby bird
What do foxes eat? And more facts about foxes
Why are bees important? And how you can help them
Protecting trees and woods
Campaign with us
Together we can stand up for the environment and safeguard the UK's woodland heritage for our future.
Have you seen your first flower or nesting bird of spring yet? Let us know what's happening near you and help scientists track the effects of climate change on wildlife.
Protecting the UK's oldest trees
Ancient trees need special care and protection. There are thousands of ancient trees in the UK and we need your help to tell us where they are with the Ancient Tree Inventory.
Volunteer with us
Every year, thousands of people give their precious time to help us protect and care for woods and trees.