As part of our Celebrate Summer At Home with Country Living virtual event (on 8th & 9th August), TV gardener Danny Clarke will be talking us through how to garden more sustainably and increase biodiversity in our outdoor spaces.
When? 2pm Saturday 8th August JOIN EVENT HERE
In the meantime, Danny – who is currently working with Homebase on their Great British Green Up campaign – has shared some tips on how to attract more wildlife into a small garden, balcony or outdoor space. You don't have to have a pond and a meadow to welcome birds, bees and insects into your plot, after all. Here's what Danny recommends...
What are your top tips for increasing biodiversity in a small garden?
No matter the size of a garden, there are always simple ways to increase biodiversity. If you have a lawn, try not mowing this too short and letting the clover grow as bees love clover. A wide variety of plants will attract a wide variety of bees, butterflies and insects. A general rule of thumb is that anything colourful and aromatic will attract wildlife – and it looks great for us humans, too!
What if I don’t have any grass, just patio?
No grass? No problem. If you’re working with a fully patio-ed space, there are still plenty of ways to make your space more biodiverse, you’ll just be relying more heavily on potted plants and trees. Smaller, potted trees are still great for birds as they offer a form of shelter. Again, the wider the variety of plants you can fit into your space, the better.
Is there anything I can do vertically to help, if I don't have the space on the ground?
Absolutely. You can get a range of vertical climber plants that will make a stunning addition to your outside walls, whilst also still attracting bees and butterflies. Walls, arches and fences are of no use to wildlife unless clothed with climbing plants. These surfaces allow these plants the space they need to spread out. Again, a good rule of thumb when choosing climbers to attract wildlife is to select anything colourful and scented. Passion flower (exotic looking flowers), honeysuckle (comes in a range of colours), Jasmine (heavily scented) and wisteria are great examples of plants that can be used to adorn vertical areas to great effect.
If there was one thing you wanted all homeowners to do to increase biodiversity, what would it be?
To spend time planting and tending to your plants in your gardens or outdoor spaces! The great thing is that this sort of activity benefits us, too, as it gives you a bit of well-deserved ‘me time', and it’s something we are already doing. So many people took to gardening more during lockdown, particularly when we had so many restrictions on what we were allowed to do, and Homebase’s research reveals that the UK has planted 322million more plants in 2020 than in 2019 as a result of being in lockdown. The Great British Green Up is a call on the nation to keep up this good work as lockdown measures ease and to continue helping biodiversity by greening up your space.
Are there any space-saving planting solutions?
You can get so many clever planting solutions these days – Homebase sells a Modular Planter Set that means you can optimise the space you have while still technically having three different plant troughs, something that is particularly beneficial to those who may only have a balcony space, or who have a patio garden space with no flower beds.
What are your top tips for increasing biodiversity on a balcony?
While it may not seem it, there are plenty of things you can do to help biodiversity in a balcony space. Potted plants will be your – and the bees' and butterflies' – new best friends. Depending on the size of your balcony, you can opt for a variety of a few potted plants or even a trough in which you could grow a range of different plants. Small, potted trees that fit within your space will attract birds, as will bird feeders that you can fill with seed and insect or bird houses to offer shelter to wildlife passing by.
With a small space, is it better to focus on attracting just one species or many?
Not necessarily, because one plant won’t just attract one species, but a variety. Of course, don’t feel like you have to go overboard – if you have a small space, even just a few plants with a variety of colours will help increase biodiversity in your area. Also, don’t underestimate the power of water to attract wildlife, be it birds, frogs, hedgehogs or insects. This can be introduced to even the smallest of spaces with a bowl. You’ll be amazed at the effect this will have on the amount of different species that will enter your plot.
Full Celebrate Summer line-up:
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