At Miles Garden Design, we are particularly interested in creating gardens that support a host of wildlife. Our background in Ecology (Jamie) and Environmental Science (Jane), along with our love of gardening, enables us to create gardens that will satisfy both your needs and those of wildlife.
Gardens comprise 12% of Britain’s cultivated land – an area larger than all of our nature reserves put together so their potential for wildlife is huge.
To achieve this, we can ensure that we use plants that are suitable for a variety of wildlife yet are still exceptional garden plants. We can also create specific features or wildlife habitats such as flower borders, ponds, streams, meadows and woodland glades.
Wildlife Gardening Tips
- Use natural predator control. Insects and other small invertebrates can be your best friends when it comes to controlling pests in your garden and vegetable patch. Planting annuals such as marigolds among your vegetables will attract a wealth of beneficial insects, such as ladybirds and hoverflies, which will eat aphids.
- Try to avoid the use of chemicals, such as pesticides and fertilisers. Almost all chemicals will kill plants and animals beyond those targeted. Work with nature rather than against it.
- Ask for peat-free products when buying from your local garden centre. Peat extraction is damaging a fragile wild habitat that cannot be recreated so avoid using peat in the garden. Instead, make your own compost from kitchen and garden waste.
- Incorporate a pond. Water bodies – even very small ones – are wonderful for wildlife. If you are short of space try placing a container, such as an old enamel or china sink, in your garden. Remember to add a few stones at one end, so that frogs and toads can get out easily.
- Plant some native shrubs or trees. These will provide a source of food and shelter for small mammals and birds.
- Choose plants that offer nectar and pollen. Go for old cottage garden plants, and avoid those with complex flowers. Generally speaking, the more complex or highly bred the flower, the less it will have to offer bees, butterflies and other insects. Native plants will often be better for insects but many exotic plants are good too.
- Provide bird food. The greater the choice of food you offer, the more species you are likely to see. If you have a cat, put a bell on its collar to alert birds.
- Leave a small pile of logs in the corner of your garden. Decaying logs in a quiet shady corner will provide a home for a wide range of insects and mammals, such as hedgehogs. Ideally, some of the logs should be upright and partially buried in the earth.
- Use a water butt to collect rainwater from house, shed and garage roofs. This will reduce the consumption of mains water. Huge amounts of energy are wasted on cleaning and transporting mains water and it is often extracted from rivers at levels that threaten local wildlife.
- Check the origin of any wood you buy for the garden. If you’re not careful, you may be unknowingly contributing to the destruction of tropical rain forests. Wood products (including paper) with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label are from well-managed forests. For more information, see their website at www.ic.fsc.org.